The Casa Loma Rose
“What’s in a name?
That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
– William Shakespeare
As the warm weather finally arrives, thousands of Canadians eagerly perform that annual rite of spring, tending to the garden. The gardeners at Casa Loma are no exception, though their responsibility for more than 5 acres is on a greater scale than the average gardener’s. In celebration of the 60th anniversary of Casa Loma in July 1997, an exciting new addition was introduced to the gardens – the Casa Loma Rose.
The mystique of Casa Loma is best captured by this flower whose traditions go back to the ancient Greeks. The word “rose” comes from the Greek “rhodon” which has numerous interesting associations. “Rhodon” stems from “rota” or wheel, a word which captures the circular placement of the petals; and from the word “rhein” or flow which suggests the scent of a rose wafting through the air.
According to the Greeks, the rose was born when Chloris, the goddess of flowers, stumbled over the lifeless body of a beautiful nymph lying in the forest. Moved by her fate, Chloris looked to her fellow-gods for help in transforming the nymph into a flower. Aphrodite gave the nymph the gift of beauty; Dionysus gave her nectar for fragrance; and the three Graces gave her charm, joy, and brilliance.
The rose has always played a key role in the language of lovers. In the 18th century this symbolic meaning evolved into an elaborate way of conveying secret messages between lovers and of subtle condolences to the bereaved. A rosebud stripped of its leaves meant “everything is to be feared”, while a rosebud stripped of its thorns meant “everything is to be hoped.”
The colours of the rose added additional vocabulary to this secret language. To send a red rose indicated a passionate advance, while a white one pointed to purity and spiritual love. The basic meaning of the gift of a rose has always been “l love you.”