What to get a Garden Lover for Valentine's Day

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Tesselaar Plants suggests an environmentally friendly rose bush – easy to grow, beautiful to look at and edible

Flower Carpet Amber

"Amber Petals are sweet like a super-ripe cantaloupe.”

With Valentine’s Day an arrow shot away, thoughts turn to what to get a loved one. While fresh-cut roses and chocolate bon bons certainly top the list as go-to gifts –– Tesselaar Plants suggests -- especially for garden lovers -- an edible rose for the garden.

“Environmentally friendly roses may be the perfect gift for the gardener in your life,” said Anthony Tesselaar, cofounder and president of Tesselaar Plants, developer of the award-winning Flower Carpet rose. “If you’ve only thought of roses as a table centerpiece or garden fixture – think again.”

Tesselaar is not alone. The International Herb Association selected the Rose as the 2012 Herb of the Year and nurseries and garden centers across the country are expecting edible plants to play big this year.

Roses—the hips and petals--have a multitude of uses, from candied and crystallized petals, vinegars and teas to essential oils for cosmetics and medicines.

But take heed before you start serving up petals, experts warn. Kitty Morse, author of “Edible Flowers, A Kitchen Companion,” cautioned, “make sure flowers you choose have been grown naturally, without the use of pesticides.”

Morse, whose book will be re-released this year as an eBook, said for that reason, most fresh-cut flowers from florist shops and nurseries are unacceptable. One of the best ways is to harvest from your backyard or from another reliable organic source.

Unfortunately, many fragrant heirloom roses are susceptible to pests such as spider mites, borers and Japanese beetles or funguses and viruses, leading many gardeners to turn to pesticide treatments.

This is where low-care environmentally friendly roses, such as Tesselaar Plant’s Flower Carpet Roses, bred to be drought and disease resistant, and have a long-flowering period, excel.

Incorporating flowers from the garden into creative dishes should be as easy as walking into your backyard with a pair of shears,” said Diane Hughes Schaffner, an Illinois-based organic gardener and local food advocate, who is no stranger to tasting the flowers in her garden. “I’m all about the edible landscape,” she said. And while she hasn’t tasted her roses yet, it’s probably just a matter of time. “There’s not a dish of mine that goes to a summer party without the garnish of nasturtium blossoms.”

Colorado Garden Blogger Becky Dziarnowski grows Flower Carpet roses as herbs and grew up eating roses. “My mother used to make rose jam and tea and sugared rose petals back in the ‘50s,” she said. With her Amber, Yellow and Scarlet Flower Carpet Roses, she said she makes tea from the hips: crushing 2 or 3 hips and then steeping them in a tea ball for five minutes. “The Amber petals are sweet,” Dziarnowski said, “like a super-ripe cantaloupe.”

Rose petal ice cream is a favorite with Denise Schreiber, author of Eat Your Roses … Pansies, Lavender and 49 Other Delicious Edible Flowers. After taking the bitter white off the bottom of each petal, she dries them on a shelf or in an oven warmed to 200 degrees, then shut off. She mixes a quarter cup of the dried, crumbled petals into a half gallon of French vanilla ice cream and boosts the rose flavor with a teaspoon of rose water and 2 tablespoons of rose syrup. The garnish: a sprinkling of fresh rose petals.

For centuries, roses have been an important part of many cultures. As an essential oil, roses have antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic and antiviral characteristics, according to The Herb Companion. It can also be used topically as an analgesic. Rose hips are also so rich in vitamin C that British sailors were reportedly told to drink rose hip tea during World War II to ward off scurvy. Rose vinegars, waters and syrups are commonly used in cuisines from the Middle East to North Africa.

Morse, who was born and raised in Morocco, advises when harvesting rose blossoms “generally, the darker the color, the deeper the flavor.” She also recommends harvesting roses, or any flowers, early in the morning, washing them and then laying them on paper towels to dry. She has a recipe for rose syrup lemonade with rose petal ice cubes, which can be easily made. She also adds a splash of rose syrup to champagne and serves it in flutes. “It’s very refreshing; it cleanses the palette in between courses.”

“Dare to be different this year and grow some roses in your garden that will not only be beautiful to look, environmentally safe and easy to grow – but tasty to eat,” Tesselaar urges.

About Tesselaar

Tesselaar Plants searches the world and introduces new plants for the home garden, landscape, home décor and gift market. Tesselaar Plants undertakes extensive research and development of its varieties and, once selected for introduction, provides marketing and promotional support for its plant brands through its grower and retail network. Tesselaar’s portfolio of plants is small by design, given rigorous standards that result in high-quality, dramatic, prolific plants that are also environmentally friendly and exceptionally easy to grow.

The Tesselaar philosophy is to introduce exceptional plants while “making gardening easy” for everyone, and so it makes them widely available as possible. Tesselaar believes that the more gardeners there are, the better it is for everyone.

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Media Contact:
Laurie Riedman / Riedman Communications
Phone: (585) 396-3100
Email: laurie(at)riedmancomm(dot)com

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