Coming up roses

To many people roses are quite simply the most beautiful flowers in the world. A dozen red buds received on St Valentine’s Day is a wonderful declaration of love. In delicate hues, the blooms are the staple ingredient of a traditional bride’s bouquet. And no self-respecting florist would send a Mother’s Day delivery devoid of these fragrant beauties.

Bulgarian rose oil

However, there is more to these pretty perennials than just their looks. The oil that can be extracted from their petals is highly prized, both as an ingredient in perfumes and for its healing properties.

The Damask rose, also known as the Bulgarian rose, has a deep and intense scent, and Bulgaria is one of the world’s top producers of rose oil, which is used to make some of the most famous and expensive perfumes in the world. In fact the Bulgarian rose oil industry was so successful in the 19th century that it almost monopolised the world’s supply of this valuable commodity.

Rose petals

It takes approximately 1,000 rose petals to produce just one gram of rose oil, and the harvesting season begins as the flowers start to open at the end of May. The blooms are picked by hand, with work starting at sunrise, when the oil yield is at its highest, and should be finished just a few hours later, while dew is still present. The harvest is transported to the distillery as quickly as possible as the flowers begin to deteriorate rapidly.

Popular perfumes

Famous brands such as Dior, Guerlain, Stella McCartney, L’Occitane, Cartier, and many more all feature the fragrance of roses in some of their most popular perfumes. However, rose oil is also said to be beneficial to health in a host of ways, although all essential oils should be used with caution. It’s thought to be useful as an anti-depressant and a stress-buster – boosting self-esteem and confidence – it can be used as an antiseptic to treat wounds, help to fade scars, eliminate headaches, moisturise dry skin and reduce symptoms of the menopause.

So next time you decide to say it with flowers, remember the many benefits of roses – from their fragrance and beauty to their calming and healing properties.

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