The rose is the Queen of flowers and the rose garden its king. All along rose was considered a symbol of elegance, beauty and fragility, was cultivated since the mists of time. The rose has been the theme of poems and ancient writers. The Old Testament tells about roses as the Cantico dei Cantici, in the Egyptian tombs they were represented. Homer tells that Aurora, the morning goddess, with "rose fingers" paints the world at every dawn. Saffo, Catullo, Anacreonte, Virgilio, Ovidio and Erodoto, Plinio and Ippocrate were dazed by its charme, Dante compares heaven love paragona with the center of a rose. In recent times Lorenzo il Magnifico, Shakespeare who talks about it in "Henry IV" and in "Much ado about nothing", D'Annunzio, Giovanni Pascoli with "Rosa di macchia", Pier Paolo Pasolini and Umberto Eco couldn't resist to the temptation of use it as a term of reference for human beings or a divine, or as a work title.
There are two major regions in the world where the roses used to extract these essences are cultivated. The first straddles the border between Bulgaria and Turkey, where the focus is mostly on cultivating an improved version of the Damask rose; the seconda covers the south of France and Morocco, where the most popular rose grown is the centifolia rose, or cabbage rose. Of these, the Bulgarian rose is best known for its superior quality, as the conditions of Bulgaria’s soil and climate are considered to be ideal for growing roses.
Bulgaria is the world’s leading producer of roses for essences and exports more than 1,300-1,400 kilogrammes of essential oils every year. It takes 1,400 flowers to extract just one gramme of the precious essential oil that is the result of naturally distilling roses. So, to obtain one kilogramme of essential oil, it takes no less then three tonnes of roses. When the time comes to harvest the flowers, in June and July, the local schools are closed and the whole family goes out into the fields to collect the precious flowers. Work starts at four o’clock in the morning and continues until ten. Every individual can harvest from 30 to 50 Kg of roses in those six hours. The reason why harvesting starts so early in the morning is so as to minimise the loss of perfumed components that comes when the flower is exposed to the sunshine, which influences the quality of the roses. The harvested flowers are treated with steam at a temperature of about 120°C and then distilled for three hours to extract both the essential oil of rose and rose water.
These days, perfumes are made by blending from 100 to 700 different types of essences together. The types of essence and their compositions are always brand secrets. Jasmine has been dubbed the King and Rose the Queen of the numerous essential oils that can be distilled from flowers. Unlike jasmine, whose intense perfume is definitely a matter of taste – you either love it or you don’t – the rose is enormously popular. It blends naturally with most other essences to generate all sorts of different perfumes, so there is always one that appeals to everyone.