Lets celebrate the 2012 herb of the year: the rose!

We have an abundance of wild roses growing right outside our front doors and their diverse range of healing properties,beautiful aromas and visual beauty offer us so much as each delicate petal unfolds.

Rose petals make an excellent backwoods “bush bandage” for cuts and scrapes, and they fit perfectly over fresh bug bites. The petals help take the heat out of the wound and stop inflammation.

A cooled petal infusion can also be made into eyewash for irritated eyes. When making the eyewash, be sure to strain all the bits out of the water so they don’t go into the eye and further irritate it.

Most of the rose plant is edible. We tend to focus on the flowers and hips, but the leaves, the peeled thorny stems, and the roots can also be used for nutritional purposes.

The flowers and leaves can be added to salads, jams and jellies, and they look great on top of a cake: they really brought my wedding cake to life!

The flower petals are lovely in a hot infusion, but are equally lovely in a sun tea.

Rose-petal jelly is always a treat. It’s light and delicate, yet complex and divine. It can be made with fresh petals in the summer or with the dried petals any time of the year.

The highly nutritious fruit, rosehips, can be used in many ways in the kitchen, most commonly in making tea, syrup, jam and jelly. Try using the hips as a base for ice creams, sorbets, or even as a sauce for fish or other wild meats.

Rosehips are gathered in the autumn after the first frost and are generally dried for use as a tea that is high in nutrients, such as vitamin C and bioflavonoids.

Herbalists often make syrup with the hips to help heal anemia because they are mineral rich with trace amounts of iron and B vitamins. It is believed that rosehips stimulate production of red blood cells.

Rose petals have been used in many therapeutic cosmetic preparations through the ages.

When used topically, rose petals help to retain moisture in and on the skin. This makes rose excellent for dry, mature, and dull skin.

Rose water can be bought commercially or made at home and helps to balance skin sebum production, making it useful for both dry and oily skin. It can balance and restore the skin’s ph and helps tighten pores.

Its antibacterial properties help fight acne, giving troubled skin a gentle, rather than a harsh treatment. It’s reputed to be useful in the treatment of all sorts of dermatitis.

At my little herb shop, Aroma Borealis, we have been making a delicate rose-petal face cream for over a decade. One of our long-time wholesale customers was quoted in an Ottawa newspaper as saying it’s “the champagne of creams.”

Rose petals can be added to apple cider vinegar or vodka and used as a facial tonic that is astringent and cleansing. One of myfavourite pampering treats is a rose-petal facial steam. When I’m done, I use the water to soak my feet.

Rose petals can also be infused in oil and used as a base for massage and body oils, creams, and bath preparations.

“I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall.” – Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962)