Sunday, August 17, 2008

By any other name . . .

It was lovely to hear from you, but I don’t agree with you on the subject of roses. You can’t lump all roses into an amorphous group.

Let’s get this straight. First of all, and this may be hard to believe, but there is no such thing as a pink rose. Before I'm accused of blatant lying, let me hastily add that there are roses that are pink, roses that are red, roses that are white and roses that are yellow. But it is the rose, and not the colour, that defines the type.

There are tea roses, and climbing roses, and shrub roses, and standard roses, and moss roses, and miniature roses, and musk roses - all of which revel in a range of colours that would gladden the heart of anyone in search of a rainbow.

There are cabbage roses of such pinkness and voluptuousness that each fallen petal would cover a dinner plate. There again, there are prim, pink, miniature roses of such delicacy and virginity that, rather than be seen to shed their apparel in public, they quietly wither when the flowering is done. There are confident, cream and carmine climbers whose firm flowers reach upwards to the sun. There are golden tea roses, tipped with apricot, that appear wax-like in their perfection. There are aspirational, white standard roses, that radiate moonlight and hold their fragile blooms like tapering candles. There again there are opulent, white, shrub roses whose heavy blooms would rightly adorn Marie Lloyd's best bonnet. Finally, there are the many-petalled, crimson musk roses with a perfume so strong that it comes out togreet you, and stamens so dusted with fine gold that they leave gold-dust on your clothes if you brush too close.

Perhaps Shakespeare was right in saying that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but it needs more than just a name to do justice to the beauty, mystery and infinite variety of the rose!

PS. How could I possibly have overlooked the wild rose? Shakespeare’s magical ‘eglantine’ . . . possibly the most beautiful, ethereal and transient of them all . . . and it’s pink!!