Ode to Parfum: Praising Sylt's Rosa rugosa
"Wow!". Arriving in Sylt, the gardener at large cannot, not be aware of Rosa rugosa. Admittedly I arrived in autumn, Rugosa's flower and scent season had peaked. But still those remaining pink blooms gave up to my pressing nose, the perfume that has made this rose famous and famous on Sylt. Sylt Germany's most northern land tip has been a true supporter. They have crowned her on their stone walls. And these "rose crowned" walls run as a red thread the whole length of the island. They have captured her olfactory uniqueness in jams and liquors, placed her in prominent places in gardens and cemetery plots but above all, they have let Rosa rugosa romp rampant to reign throughout their impressive dune landscape.
Wave your arms in a sweep in all directions and Rugosa (the pink variety) is everywhere. Since when? (I asked). Rugosa is an emigrant, brought to Europe in the 18th century from Northern Asia from countries like Korea. Little could they know, the sailors (we presume it was the sailors) that sailed home to Sylt with hips in their ditty bags, what a long lasting impression this plant would have. Then again the rose may have also come alone by sea. The huge hips (almost crab apple size) can bob about in oceans for up to 40 weeks. (Yes 40 weeks!). Rugosa seeds without the hip will even push on for a little longer.
Smitten with Sylt
Having said all this, what is so evident, is that Rosa rugosa like many Germans, simply loves being on Sylt. They are in their element in this wild and wooly environment. Foul weather - rugosa is robust; poor (sandy) soil - not a root issue; isolation - no competition!; salty air - the wrinkled (rugose in Latin means wrinkled) leathery leaf can cope. They are like the rest of us smitten mit Sylt...the negatives are such strong positives and in times like these, a place far North to re-generate and escape From The Madding Crowd.