Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Do My Hips Look Big?

'High Voltage' rose hips
ProfessorRoush believes himself the successful survivor of a long-term marriage, if only because the bruises and welts from Mrs. ProfessorRoush's rolling pin have been infrequent enough that I haven't sustained memory loss or cognitive dysfunction from repeated concussions thereof.  At least I don't think that my increased frequency of rummaging around in the mental attic recently has anything to do with such spousal corrections.  I'm confused, however, and not sure.  Regardless, one of the reasons I view myself as a successful husband is that I learned early on in our blissful honeymoon days to feign deafness when asked to answer that most treacherous question of all married wives, "Does this (...outfit, pantsuit, belt, chair, blouse, sofa cover, etc) make my hips look big?"

'Morden Centennial' rose hips
But now, I ask you, do my hips look big this year?  One of the side benefits to being a lazy rosarian is that I can use the excuse that I'm allowing the roses to develop hips instead of running around in a frenzy deadheading any bloom that is more than a day old.  It's all for the benefit of the avian wildlife.  What, you didn't know that birds will eat rose hips?  Well, maybe it's advantageous to keep the roses from stressing themselves over summer trying to bloom too heavily.  It develops stronger canes, you know?  Oh, you've never heard that either?  Okay, then will you accept that the red rose hips make nice winter ornaments in your garden?

Because they do, you know, make nice natural ornaments in the few days in Manhattan Kansas when the snow falls.  Most of them do, anyway.  It never seems to work out exactly like I wanted it to.  Some roses that I didn't expect to develop hips are reluctant to rebloom and are covered with hips (like 'High Voltage' that I wrote about recently).  Others are widely touted to have large, tomato-red hips.  The Hybrid Rugosa 'Purple Pavement' is such a rose, but this summer, the large red hips swelled, showed promise, and then shriveled.  First, they turned into reddish-orange prunes like the picture at the right, and then they just turned brown and ugly like the picture below.  Who really wants to show off a bunch of prun-ey shriveled old hips unless they have no choice?

I don't imagine these dried hips of 'Purple Pavement' would make very good eating, either.  I'm aware that rose hips are rich in Vitamin C and were harvested in Britain in WWII to make rose hip syrup as a vitamin supplement for children.  Rose hips are also promoted for herbal teas, sauces, soups, jams, and tarts.  These days, health experts far and wide are proclaiming the anti-cancer and cardiovascular benefits of the anthocyanins and other phytochemicals contained in rose hips.  I ask you, looking at the picture at the left, would you expect any medicinal benefits other than as a purgative?   They have even been used to control pain from osteoarthritis in a 2007 Danish study.  Maybe so, but I ain't eating them. 

For now, I'm quite happy to leave my rose hips for the birds or to let them drop to the ground and occasionally grow more little roses.  As long as I don't have to deadhead the bushes.  And maybe it is my aberrant "Y" chromosome, but I don't care if you think my hips are big.  I think they're beautiful.

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