oses are our national floral emblem and the most readily recognized, widely grown, and deeply loved of all flowers.

For over 2,000 years, roses have been grown and loved for their special beauty and fragrance. And what flower is more symbolic of romance than roses? The popularity of the rose is also attested to by the many songs that have been written extolling it. Poets as well as lovers since civilization began have made it their favorite subject.

As early as 600 B.C., the Greek poetess Sappho named the rose the "Queen of Flowers," a title it still bears. It has had an important part in human culture all down through the ages, playing a role in religion, art, literature, and heraldry.

The history of the rose in America actually began, as far as we know, 40 million years ago. It was then that a rose left its imprint on a slate deposit at Florissant, Colorado. Fossilized remains from 35 million years ago have also been found in Montana and Oregon. This makes the rose as native to America as our bald eagle. And speaking of native, there are 35 rose species indigenous to the United States.

So, without doubt, the rose has the requisite heritage to take its place beside our other national symbols. With Congress and the President proclaiming the rose as our national floral emblem in the fall of 1986, it is appropriate to consider these and other rose facts and fancies.

For example, it was a rose that kept Christopher Columbus and his weary crew from turning homeward. On October 11, 1492, while becalmed in the Sargasso Sea, one of the crewman picked a rose branch, bright with red fruit out of the water. With renewed hope, this sign of land gave the seafarers the courage to continue to the New World.

Edward Winslow, a founder of the Plymouth Colony, reported "an abundance of roses, white, red, and damask, single but very sweet indeed" planted by the Pilgrims in 1621. Captain John Smith wrote of the Indians of the James River Valley planting wild roses to beautify their camps, thus making roses one of the first commonly cultivated ornamentals on this continent.

When William Penn returned to America in 1699, he brought 18 rose bushes with him and discussed both their beauty and medicinal virtue in his Book of Physics. Starting in 1731, the Penn family also rented parcels of land for the payment each year of one red rose.

The rose also was used on our early currency - a 1722 coin has a five-petaled rose in its center and cupids and wreaths of roses adorn a three-dollar bill dated 1856. The Order of the Rose military medal of honor features a five-petaled rose with an eagle.

Thomas Jefferson used roses extensively in plantings at Monticello, as did George Washington at Mount Vernon. The history of the rose at the White House began in 1800 when John Adams prudently combined a rose and vegetable garden. In 1913, Mrs. Woodrow Wilson redesigned the area outside the President's office into a formal rose garden. Today, many White House news dispatches refer to events taking place in the "Rose Garden." We even have roses named for Presidents and First Ladies, including John F. Kennedy, Herbert Hoover, Mister Lincoln, Rosalynn Carter, Pat nixon, and Nancy Reagan, while the name Roosevelt means "field of roses."

Even many of the names of rose varieties reflect our country: America, American Heritage, and Yankee Doodle. Other roses remind us of our childhood or the people we love: Jiminy Cricket, Circus, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Dolly Parton. Other roses have taken on our geography: Capistrano, Mohave, Broadway, and Saratoga.

The rose has entered our language, too. For instance, "a bed of roses" is a life of ease and luxury or an easy situation. We cordially tell our friends that bright, cheerful, or optimistic, we use the adjective "roseate" or "rosy." "Rosy" is also used to describe a healthy, glowing complexion. A "sub- rosa" agreement is confidential.

Representing the highest ideals we Americans cherish - beauty, grace, dignity, and pride, we have chosen no less than the best as our newest symbol. Hail the rose!

No other shrub or flower will produce the quantity or quality of blooms all summer long like roses either - even the first year they're planted. In fact, you'll get fresh-cut roses worth many times the purchase price from each bush every year. All this makes roses one of the best gardening buys around.

In talking about roses you'll hear terms like hybrid tea, floribunda, or grandiflora. These refer to the growth and bloom habit of different types, or classifications, of roses. Learning about the various rose classifications will help in choosing the best roses for different uses in landscaping your yard.

One point to remember is that as hybridizers explore the possibilities of new roses, the lines between the various classifications become less and less distinct. Still, it is helpful to both gardeners and scientists to group roses by growth habit and flowering characteristics.

The thousands of rose varieties we have today were developed, either in nature or by man, from the 150 to 200 rose species (those found growing in the wild). After the species, these varieties can be divided into four major classifications: bush, climbing, shrub and ground cover, and tree roses.