Collecting the folklore and uses of plants


0131. [Aberdeen, 1980s]  My sister and I would make our own perfume from tap water and rose petals – we’d leave it in jam jars behind the storage heaters only to find a rancid jar of slime a few weeks later [Walthamstow, London, October 2015].

2.  We saved rosehips for use in wintertime teas, as their Vitamin C was helpful with colds.  This was a fairly common practice at the time, mostly using the old variety roses that have large hips.  This was in northern California, in the 1970s-1980s [Starke, Florida,  U.S.A., April 2015].

3.  As a child we would make ‘perfume’ from petals from the rambling roses that grew up the trellises that surrounded our garden in Langley Green [West Midlands]. My friend and I would pick the petals and put them on a bottle with water, put on the stopper, sometimes screw top, sometimes cork, and shake it up.  We would then open the bottles, dab the water behind our ears, knees and on our wrists and then play at being our mothers going out for the evening,  After a while we would have to throw our ‘perfume’ down the drain as it smelt awful.  This would have been in the mid to late [19]50s [Cowley, Oxford, October 2014].

4.  If you receive 18 yellow roses when in a relationship it is a way of saying we are breaking up [Cheslyn Hay, Staffordshire, October 2014].

Images: main, cultivated, Burns Memorial Gardens, Alloway, Ayrshire, September 2017; upper inset, ‘Molineux’ rose bush planted in memory of Vilma Kathleen Greig (1929-2014), Trent Park Cemetery, London Borough of Enfield, August 2015; lower inset, rose petals used in Corpus Christi floral carpet, St John the Evangelist Church, Upper Norwood, London, 30 May 2024.