Gardens, Growing Food & Medicine News ~ The Culture of the Rose in Bulgaria

768David Crow of Floracopeia gave an amazing three day seminar on essential oils as part of the 2012 Sedona Spring Planting Festival. David guided us masterfully through numerous meditations on the qualities and subtle actions of the plants as we sampled their oils and absorbed the most amazing information provided. The seminar was nearing its end, the room was hot and everyone was tired – when David passed around samples of his most unique oil, which he had kept as a special treat. This was the perfume of  Rosa Alba – grown organically in my country, Bulgaria, and extracted through a novel method involving carbon dioxide. The mood in the room noticeably shifted and with it something shifted inside of me…

I come from the Bulgarian Rose Valley – a picturesque part of the country, stretching in the middle, nestled between the Balkan mountains – a barrier to the harsh weather coming in from Russia and the North – and the rolling hills of Sredna Gora to the South.  The valley has been the home of Rosa Damascena, introduced by the Turks during the days of the Ottoman Empire who appreciated it as a superior growing region for roses.  The flowers are very delicate and the aroma -  strong, yet subtle, and extremely pleasing.  During the Turkish occupation, the Bulgarians were pushed away from the fertile land of the valley and moved their small farms to the hills of Sredna Gora, where the Rose also thrived.  As a child, I remember going to the small rose field that my grandparents had adjacent to their vineyard.

779Rose oil is among the most expensive essential oils in the world. It takes 4-5 tons With a small rose field in the old days, families would have produced only very small amounts of petals to distill one kilogram of oil. Each flower is hand picked at dawn, when the oil yield is at its highest – capturing the Soma of the Moon, and its nurturing, calming and mood lifting qualities  (” from darkness to light”) of oil, which they treasured as gold and buried in the ground for a rainy day.

That day at the 7 Centers, I was captivated by David’s story of the rose. A couple of years later, I joined forces with a farming cousin.  Last November, we planted a field of 4,000 roses of our own.  After a longer than usual winter, the young plants are just emerging now from their little mounds. We may see some tiny blossoms this summer, a modest harvest of petals (perhaps for tea and jam) next year, and a distillation harvest on the third year.

This spring, at 7 Centers I learnt about Agni Hotra – the Vedic fire ceremony to harmonize the energies of the land and atmosphere for the nourishment of the earth and well-being of the plants.  I feel my roses will be extra special because of their Sedona “conception” and nurturing and look forward to the next David Crow seminar – Goodness knows what that will inspire!

. . . . . . . . . .

 This article is written by Stefka Regelous who has attended several workshops at 7 Centersand became inspired with her cousin to start growing roses … part of her family & country heritage.