Eating Roses

A flower unplucked is but left to the falling,
And nothing is gained by not gathering roses.

For those who would gather alongside Robert Frost, roses are not just for the seeing and smelling.

Nicholas Culpeper – influential 17th Century botanist, herbalist and physician – prescribed roses for all types of ailments. As he wrote in The Complete Herbal: ‘The decoction of red Roses made with wine and used, is very good for the head-ache, and pains in the eyes, ears, throat, and gums; as also for the fundament, the lower part of the belly and the matrix, being bathed or put into them.’

‘The syrup of dried red Roses strengthens a stomach given to casting, cools an over-heated liver, and the blood in agues, comforts the heart, and resists putrefaction and infection, and helps to stay lasks and fluxes.’

And that was just for starters. Culpeper suggested potions be made from white roses, red roses, electuary of roses, sugar of roses, honey of roses, vinegar of roses, oil of roses, damask rose-water and red rose-cake.

If you’d like to resist putrefaction and infection or, at the very least, comfort your stomach, you might try the Rose Cake from St. Germain Bakery, founded in 1986. It’s a light almond cake paired with a white chocolate crispy wafer and topped with rose marscapone cream and  raspberry glaze.

Written by Elizabeth Newton

Header Photo: Irving Penn. Rose Fritz Nobis. 1970

Asking for Roses

Robert Frost

A house that lacks, seemingly, mistress and master,
With doors that none but the wind ever closes,
Its floor all littered with glass and with plaster;
It stands in a garden of old-fashioned roses.

I pass by that way in the gloaming with Mary;
‘I wonder,’ I say, ‘who the owner of those is.
‘Oh, no one you know,’ she answers me airy,
‘But one we must ask if we want any roses.’

So we must join hands in the dew coming coldly
There in the hush of the wood that reposes,
And turn and go up to the open door boldly,
And knock to the echoes as beggars for roses.

‘Pray, are you within there, Mistress Who-were-you?’
’Tis Mary that speaks and our errand discloses.
‘Pray, are you within there? Bestir you, bestir you!
’Tis summer again; there’s two come for roses.

‘A word with you, that of the singer recalling—
Old Herrick: a saying that every maid knows is
A flower unplucked is but left to the falling,
And nothing is gained by not gathering roses.’

We do not loosen our hands’ intertwining
(Not caring so very much what she supposes),
There when she comes on us mistily shining
And grants us by silence the boon of her roses.


Guo Pei


Shooting Roses

Elizabeth Newton

Elizabeth Newton