Rosa alba has an ancient pedigree, and can be traced back to Greek and Roman civilisations. The fact that it remains in cultivation today reflects its remarkable hardiness. Contrary to its name (meaning white), the flowers are pale pink. Thought to be the emblem of the Virgin, the rise in domestic cultivation of the rose in Medieval times was largely due to its medicinal qualities. Rosa alba semi-plena was associated with the House of York, and possibly the white rose of York during the Wars of the Roses. Possessing a wonderful fragrance, it is also one of the roses grown in Bulgaria for the distillation of attar of roses. Pierre Joseph Redouté, friend of, and floral artist to Empress Josephine, became famous for painting her collection of roses at Malmaison. Rosa alba regalis, depicted here in embroidery, was one of them. We know it as 'great maiden's blush' but among its other names on the Continent are 'Cuisse de Nymphe', and 'La Seduisante'! The history, romance and beauty of these roses should not be neglected. Like many plants they flower just once, but what a flowering!