“The most gorgeous flowers I have ever seen!”
“The best present to give a dear friend.”
“A way of saying, ‘Somebody cares.’”
PERHAPS you have sentiments similar to those expressed by the residents of Nairobi, Kenya, quoted above. Of all the flowering plants, including both those that grow wild and those cultivated by man, perhaps none has acquired more international acclaim than the rose. It has captured man’s imagination for centuries. Poets have written about it, while artists have often depicted it. Shakespeare extolled it with the famous line from Romeo and Juliet: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Thanks to the rose, new friendships have been established and cemented, strained relationships have been restored, and many a sick person has been encouraged.
In addition to all of that, the rose has great economic value. In many countries where climatic conditions favor flower farming, the rose is a major earner of foreign exchange. In Kenya, for example, out of the millions of flowers exported during one recent year, over 70 percent were roses, making the country one of the leading producers in the world.
In times past, before man discovered the flower’s alluring qualities, the rosebush grew freely in the wild. Today, through the use of carefully controlled methods of crossbreeding, some of the more than 100 species of wild roses have been bred to produce the thousands of varieties of roses known today. As a result, the flower has become known worldwide and is found in almost every country on earth. The most popular and widely cultivated is the hybrid tea rose.