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A rose by any other name: Western Rose Garlic

By August 30, 2020Beet September 2020

Gardening Gourmet

by Sydney Jordan Brown
Master Gardener 2000

A rose by any other name would smell like … Mama Mia! Now, “That’s Italian!”

Even if you’re not a resident of Italy or of Italian descent, you still can savor tastes and aromas of the most classic element of Italian cuisine, as well as of other countries’ famous cookery: garlic.

While this rose may not always be appreciated as a replacement for its classic tea rose counterpart, some people will be delighted to receive it as a gift. Garlic heads (bulbs) are quite appealing despite their distinctive pungent, but lovely, fragrance. Allium sativum, the binomial (botanical) name, means “pungent cultivated.”

Although Western Rose, a softneck subspecies (Allium sativum var. sativum), may not have petals, its fat cloves form a sizable bulb head larger than its relative, Silver Rose. Anyone who loves garlic should be proud to procure this wonderful bulb.

Even if you’re not a fan of this pungent vegetable that’s often considered an herb, your appreciation might change knowing the benefits this bulb offers.

Garlic has been widely used, medicinally and in food, since around 400 BC. Although debatable as to its exact origin, its wild form most likely originated in mountainous Central Asia and in some areas of China, India, Egypt and Ukraine.

Still not sold on including garlic either in your garden plot or on your menu? You might want to reconsider, given that garlic contains large amounts of sulfur compounds – such as alliin, and allicin – and amino acids, minerals, vitamins and more.

This powerhouse plant protects human bodies from free radicals and diseases including respiratory ailments.

Western Rose, like all softnecks, is a garlic variety with floppy stems. It was derived from hardneck garlic which have a rigid central stem.

Softnecks are not only more pungent, but don’t usually develop scapes (stems and buds formed on the central stalks of hardnecks). And, softnecks store longer.

Of the two softneck families, Artichoke and Silverskin, Western Rose belongs to the latter. It’s one of the longest-storing garlics, good to use up to 10 – or more – months. The head’s silvery covering reveals pink and rose-striped wrappers protecting 10 to 14 large, sharp-flavored cloves that surround a circle of smaller central cloves.

The last to mature of all garlic, Western Rose is a prolific grower here in the Northwest. They’re also a wonderful addition to lengthen your garlic harvest. Don’t love them yet? Your roses surely will.

Plant garlic 4-6 weeks before the ground freezes to maximize sizable root growth and little or no top growth. Tops that freeze will regrow in spring.

In well-drained soil with generous organic compost and full sun, plant one clove per hole 5” apart (pointy-tips up please!), 3-4” deep, in rows 8-10” apart. Hand water cloves until rain resumes in autumn until first frost.

Encourage rapid bulb growth by fertilizing twice (2:1 kelp and fish emulsion) and watering regularly. Stop watering in June.

Harvest in late spring-early summer when there are 5-6 leaves (each leaf means a layer of protective skin on heads) as one or two turn yellow.

So why not let this rose of another name find space in your garden’s heart and stake its claim?

Recipe: Roasted garlic on the grill

4-6 heads garlic, brushed free of dirt

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 teaspoons finely minced fresh rosemary

1/2 teaspoon chili lime sprinkle (Available at Trader Joe’s)

Mesh grill sheet or heavy aluminum foil (about a 12”-long piece of regular length heavy foil)

Heat grill to medium, about 350°. Spray grill sheet or aluminum foil with pan release.

Cut tops off garlic just enough to expose tips of cloves. Brush all with oil then sprinkle with rosemary and chili lime seasoning.

Place garlic, bottoms down, on grill. Cook for about 12-15 minutes depending on whether you want a clove that’s cooked but still whole or a softer one for paste to spread.
Squeeze heads with tongs to test for preferred doneness. When cool enough to handle, squeeze cloves from head and enjoy on anything where you use garlic. Keeps about a month refrigerated or longer frozen.

Seed sources: Territorial Seed
, Dave’s Garden