The Unexpected Rose

For my birthday a couple of years ago my partner purchased me a pair of gardening clippers. He was so excited to see me open them, as I carefully peeled back the wrapping paper in the hope to reuse it again (something I never seem to manage) I was not that enthralled. “Ah lovely, thanks”. Gardening was something that I had previously done to ‘maintain’ a space. I’d drag the lawn mower out and plough the grass, indulging in the freshly cut smell till it turned into an itchy sensation and I’d suddenly become a hot bothered mess. Later on I’d grab a few bush-like plants from Aldi during their flash release of summer plants, not really knowing exactly what they were and plonk them around the beds. Meanwhile my gardening clippers were placed at the back of some cupboard, waiting for a pair of green fingers to release them.

Last Spring I decided to move a rose plant. It was in the back garden and I was constantly catching myself on the protruding barbs, cursing as another item of clothing became victim to the thorny beast. I did not put much thought into moving it, I grabbed a worn out spade and separated it from the soil it had called home. I should mention that it was quite a large rose, taller than me at 5ft 10. It’s brown roots laid bare, dangling down, as I rested it on the grass. I positioned it in its new home, an inadequate hole filled with dense soil. That evening as I was putting my gardening tools back into their dusty box something did not feel right. I had watered the rose, surely it’s going to be fine now and if it dies, so what? At least I’ll stop catching myself on it. I went inside for the night. The next day I went straight outside to check, the end of its leaves had started to crisp. The day after it was going brown. I became wrapped with guilt and over this bloody rose. That evening I went to the garden centre and bought a bag of fertiliser and some rose food. I made the hole bigger and soaked the roots, I carefully tucked the enriched soil around its tender foundation. I fed it with some rose food. I then carefully strung up its delicate branches, the same ones which I had cursed weeks before.

Over the next fortnight I went out a lot to check on the rose. I watched as the leaves flooded with colour, I dampened it’s base with rain water and eventually I observed as the plant unraveled and gifted all who saw it with beautiful roses. Each one seemed perfect, a piece of art in itself. I sat on the grass and watched as bees and butterflies meticulously collected it’s flaming pollen. I witnessed its petals fall, no longer the collective prized piece but now a statement of fragility. The summer dazzled us, our outdoor spaces were cherished by so many. I couldn’t help but feel happy that the rose had enjoyed a day in the sun or had appreciated the warm summer shower to freshen it up. I had in some way become a bit obsessed with this plant. I used my new gardening clippers to cut diagonally into its flesh, sharply and accurately to cause as little damage, pruning it ready to form new rose heads and to cut back any disease. As the season drew to an end I researched and found a guide on how to trim it so that it was ready for the winter. I visited it a few times during the cold and dark months, it was silent, on standby.

A year on and the rose now stands proud and my love for gardening has spread, my clippers are by the back door on their own little hook. I am in awe from how much enjoyment and pleasure this plant has given me and now others I have now taken into my care. After exclaiming my new passion for gardening to my Mum she reminded me of an old quote that her Mother used to say, “If I could return again, I would take more time to watch the roses grow.” I poured some love and affection into this flower and it projected it out to the world. On my most recent visit I noticed that it’s getting ready for the warm days, its leaves perky and its buds ready to burst, soon to enliven the garden. I am too ready and waiting.

I could not resist taking a few pictures

@kateswanson_photography

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