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

Singing the praises of a simple garden rose


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.

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.)

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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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