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A rose by any other name

As Valentines day fast approaches and the shops fill with red heart shaped paraphernalia, to us it is the single rose that stands out above the throwaway declarations of love. All the different stages of the rose are wonderful – from perfect rosebud to full blown, scattering petals romantically. We love the blowsy, deliciously scented kind, the ‘English accidental rose’ in hedgerows, the rambling rose and the old-fashioned tea rose.

The rose was supposed to have grown without thorns in the Garden of Eden – but somehow that spiky threat is essential to the spirit of the rose. No flower is as beloved of painters and poets. Originally from Persia, and millennia old, the rose is heavy with ancient, beautiful and sometimes contradictory symbolism – of religion, secrecy, mystery, love and passion.

Brides scatter rose petals on their tables or use them as confetti, but the flower itself has been less popular at weddings in recent years. Rediscover the rose! If you’re getting married from June until September, have a voluptuous riot of them at your wedding. Seek out the gardeners among your aunts and uncles and parents’ friends, and beg for as many roses as they can supply just before the big day. Then tumble them into jars and jugs on your tables - they look best very simply arranged. They’ll perfume the air and drop their petals. Our pretty paper roses are artificial flowers of the very best kind - with their dusty pink colour, they remind us of flowers pressed between the pages of a book. Sensual, beautiful, romantic bliss.

A single flower he sent me, since we met.

all tenderly his messenger he chose;

deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet

One perfect rose.

Dorothy Parker, One Perfect Rose

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