The Rose of Damascus (Rosa Damascena)
A bush with resilient branches, the flower with the 30 petals, this rose bush is also called ‘mirodati’ (odoriferous) and ‘oreitiki’ (mountainous) is known officially as the Rose of Damascus and belongs to the Rosacea family. It reaches a height of 1,5 – 2 metres tall, its leaves are composite, egg-shaped and piliferous on the underside. The thorns are particularly dense, the twin buds have a pale pink colour and the flower has a particularly strong fragrance. It blossoms in April/May. As in all the Mediterranean countries, the Rose of Damascus grows in bush lands, at the edges of roads and in Agros at the foot of mountains, protected from strong winds and ice.
HARVESTING THE ROSES
It is May in Agros and Mother Nature is orchestrating her symphony. The buds of the Rose of Damascus have not yet opened completely. Maria Tsolakis and the workers have prepared for harvesting. An unforgettable, if backbreaking day lies ahead. They are up at dawn, as is everyone involved in the harvesting of the roses. For one kilo of rose petals, 400 – 500 roses have to be picked. Harvesting lasts between 20 and 25 days. At the Tsolakis plantation, roughly between 27,000 and 30,000 roses are hand picked per day. This is done before the sun heats them up, causing their fragrance to evaporate. The roses have to be placed in the cauldron for distillation as soon as possible. Harvesting has the sweetness of a festival, where friends are present, and where acquaintances and strangers are welcome. If you are at Agros in May, do come and pick roses with us.