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Apothecary's Rose

How could you not love this? Over and over, I heard this question. What fun! I was on a rose-rustling expediction up in Wayne County, north of Scranton, with seven rose experts, including the Rev. Doug Seidel, Stephen Scanniello, Nicole Juday of Wyck, Kent Krugh, Dennis Favello and Ruth and Jack Flounders, who have an old-rose nursery in Auburn, Pa. They'd all been here last weekend for Wyck's second old rose symposium and decided to go for it on Monday! This is an Apothecary's Rose, one of the oldest roses in cultivation and a great treasure. It was discovered growing in a 19th-century cemetery whose name shall remain a secret. That's one of the rose-rustler's rules of the road. These old roses - if you're a strict constructionist, they date to before 1867, when the first hybrid tea was introduced (eventually to knock off much of the competition) and if you're a loose constructionist, they date up to the 1920's - are increasing rare due to changing consumer taste in roses, habitat loss (development pressures) and other reasons, including the fact that no one knows they're there or they get overtaken by other growing things. But this beautiful rose - with an old rose's typical fabulous scent - once was lost and now is found. The rustlers discreetly took clippings to grow in their own gardens and to share with friends. The Apothecary's Rose has a fascinating history, which is one reason the rustlers love these old roses so much. Its image was found on the walls of Pompeii. It was the "red rose" of the House of Lancaster in medieval England. Its petals were used to make medicines taste better and they were mixed into potions to grow hair or seduce lovers. In colonial times, the buds were dipped in sugar and eaten as candy. (Now you're talking!) Story soon.