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Singing the praises of a simple garden rose (Thinkstock)
Singing the praises of a simple garden rose (Thinkstock)

Keep your long-stemmed bouquet. Give me a garden rose any day Add to ...

Poor roses. So much pressure. Centuries of cultural weight on their puny green stems: Shakespeare, Blake, not to mention Harlequin Romance.

I’m not saying I haven’t caved to the hype once or twice – he loves me, he loves me not, when will the bouquet arrive? Then it does, and they smell like the inside of a fridge and start to droop within a day.

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Eventually, you realize it was never about the pleasure of putting your face into masses of scented, velvety blooms, but about being able to say, “He sent me a dozen long-stemmed roses!” They have to be long-stemmed, especially if he sent them to the office, the better to impress your co-workers. Personally, I always thought that was a bit obvious. And those puffed-up blood-red thorny ones – seriously? Is this Fifty Shades of Grey? (Not that I’ve read it. Really.)

So yeah, roses, I’m so over them.

But I’m not talking about garden roses. Garden roses are to fridge roses what skateboarders are to, say, Victoria’s Secret models. They live in the real world: dusty laneways and backyards, spilling over fences. They survive bad weather and neglect, lose their leaves to aphids, their petals to a hard rain. And they smell – they smell glorious.

One of these survivors has ventured a branch or two from the neighbour’s weed patch into my own green space. Every summer, those spindly interlopers manage only a few blooms. But each one is a revelation.

It has become, over the past couple of years, a secret pleasure to steal these small, fragrant blooms. To put one at a time in a bud vase. Just for me.

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