Roses for rudeness


I’ve been the recipient of a fair amount of rudeness this week, entirely from men, culminating in a blunt rejection from a photographer I’d approached for a copyright request.  I was seeking to use an image of his of a rose called Dance of Joy, which is not a well known rose.  I’ve certainly never seen it in Australia.  As an aside, if you have a photo of Dance of Joy that you would be happy to let me use, please let me know.  Because, I’m certainly not going to link to his site now!

I’m not disputing this photographer’s response. He is the copyright owner and its his right to say no.  Having been plagiarised myself, I am quite sensitive to the issue.  But I am deeply dismayed by the manner of his refusal.

Even though this blog is mostly about roses, I have subtitled it ‘blogging for a kinder, gentler and more creative world’.  These are qualities which I believe the world needs more of.  They contribute so much to the quality of daily life, as I have discovered this week when reeling.  If we were to apply a willingness to be kind to bigger matters, can you imagine what a transformative effect that would have?

It starts in the smallest of interactions.  Like starting an email to a stranger on the other side of the globe with an actual greeting!  Dear…Like thanking someone for their interest in your work before going onto say no.  Possibly even giving a reason.

Simple, simple stuff.

It might have taken that photographer all of an extra minute to write his response, and it would have made a difference to me, after a week of being dissed, belittled and insulted. You wouldn’t think you’d have to be so explicit about it, but like I said, this week’s rudeness quota reminds me all over again.  Kindness MATTERS.

Roses for home

Belonging, Clare Cooper Marcus, Home, Roses

A few posts ago I talked about the loss of a much cherished dream, which I am still finding it very difficult to adjust to. As if by magic, a book returned to my life yesterday. I lent Clare Cooper Marcus’ House as a mirror of self: Exploring the deeper meaning of home and never got it back. This week I found a replacement copy, and each evening I have been getting cosy with it. Last night I read the chapter on location, which reminded me afresh of my attempt to find a home in a different city.

In the chapter she talks about how few people in her research were able to be OK with where they were. Most of us, it would seem, have a deep, semi conscious idea of home that is in play all the time. Its primarily affected by the place or places, homes or houses in which we spent our childhood years but we can also be influenced by a myriad of other things. I certainly have a strong image of the place I would like to call home. My Tasmanian venture was as close to it as I have come, which is why its failure felt so devastating. Lots of friends knew that was why I had gone, but very few have appreciated the depth of the sorrow that my failure to accomplish it has brought me.

Normally I would turn to a rose garden for solace, but here in Canberra in June, that’s not possible. Heritage Roses Australia posted a photo this week of a beautiful array of roses from WA, my birth state. Could be a reason to move back there, although I don’t know how I would cope with the summers anymore.

A search of Help Me Find produces a number of roses with home in the title, many of which seem to be associated with decorator magazines. One that isn’t which draws me in is called Ideal Home, or Idylle. It’s a pink blend hybrid tea bred by Joseph Laperriere in 1959. There’s also the intriguingly named Home of Time, which also goes by the name Adagio. Anne Cocker was the breeder and it was released in 1998. Its bronzey reddy tones are very bold, and might sit well next to Afternoon Delight out the front. The last rose that strikes me (there’s a play on names about to come) is Home and Family. However this rose was released in Australia under the name Atomic Blonde. Atomic, with all its imagery of exploding mushroom clouds and devastation, doesn’t strike me as a name that will produce sales. Home and Family on the other hand, well, isn’t that what we all long for? A home where we are really at home, and a family where we truly feel like family?

I live in hope…

Roses for revelation

Adoption, Diabetes, Family, Health, Roses

If only all revelations were as beautiful as this rose. Like many roses, she has multiple names. I found her by searching under the term ‘revelation’, with her full name of ‘Sweet Revelation’. She is also known as Chimene, Sue Hipkin or Hipken, and as Lady Jane Grey. She was bred by Harkness, and released in 1998. Harkness describes this rose as growing a metre high and sixty five centimetres wide, with a powerful scent and a unique bronze colour. In their catalogue, she is Sue Hipkin.

Photo by George Seguin, photographed in the Bagatelle Garden, Paris.

Photo by George Seguin, photographed in the Bagatelle Garden, Paris.

This post started because I’d had an unwelcome revelation relating to my diabetes. While researching something that I thought was entirely unrelated, I discovered that my risk of developing diabetes had always been higher because I had never been breastfed. Children taken for adoption in the secret era usually weren’t.

Add another black mark to the experience of adoption.

What really astounded me was the coincidence between this rose’s names. When I was in primary school, I would often stay at my grandparent’s house where I liked to read their old books. That was how I discovered the story of Lady Jane Grey, Queen of England for a mere nine days. With ruthless manoeuvring, her parents put her on the throne following the death of Henry VIII’s son Edward in an attempt to keep Henry’s Catholic first born daughter, Mary, off the throne.

My grandparents were fiercely Protestant, or fiercely anti Catholic, and Jane’s story has been largely cast against this political background religious hatred and intolerance. This is not what struck me as a kid. I was being brought up to be irreligious, and the words Protestant and Catholic were just that, words.

Through her mother’s family, Jane had kinship with the Royal family. She and Henry VIII’s heir, Edward, were cousins. This lineage of hers turned out to be deadly. Jane might not have been beheaded if it were not for her father, in particular. His refusal to give up his ambition for power is what cost his daughter her life. It was the first time that I truly understood, with both my head and my heart, that family can indeed be dangerous.

While I was troubled and fascinated by the story of Jane all at the same time, the revelation helped me. It gave me a safe historical context to think about the purpose of families, and about how parents were supposed to behave. Not that this is a topic which I would ever have aired within my adoptive family. The subject was strictly verboten, and as the Australian research shows, those children who did not feel encouraged to talk about it, were more likely to have mental health issues later in life. So I struggled to find a way to come to terms with the knowledge that my parents had given me away. The concept that ‘family is dangerous’ that I formed after learning of Jane Grey’s fate helped me to understand that maybe the fault wasn’t with me. Just maybe, I was the innocent party instead of fault laden, defective child that I thought I was.

Was it a sweet revelation, as this rose’s name suggests? Ultimately, they both were. For the first, I feel more exonerated of the shame of having developed a chronic disease at so young an age. For the second, I remember the relief of my child self. It didn’t solve the situation I was in, and remain in, but it gave me a different, and more positive, perspective.

Roses for anger


Are there roses for anger? With a stretch of the imagination, yes.

We have Wildfire, Wildcat, Le Vesuve, Lavaglut and Typhoon. None are particularly about anger, but all suggest that more violent end of the spectrum of human emotions. More accurately, they suggest the effect of a sweeping bout of rage. We all know what Vesuvius did to Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Le Vesuve, Laffay, 1825.  Photo by the author.

Le Vesuve, Laffay, 1825. Photo by the author.

Le Vesuve, pictured above, seems too sweetly pink to really carry the weight of her name. She has an alternative name, Lemesle, and was bred by Laffay in 1825. None of the sites I have consulted have given the rationale for her name, and I must confess that I am going against all professional training and making an assumption that her name is related to Vesuvius. But in any case, while she is a lovely rose, she wouldn’t be my pick for a rose to symbolise anger.

Wildfire.  Photo by the author.

Wildfire. Photo by the author.

This is Wildfire, photographed at the Old Parliament House Garden. She is far more like it. As is Typhoon. She almost glows like embers.

There’s also Wildcat, which I’ve not seen in person but from photos she is channelling the same orange to red glow. We feel these colours when we feel angry. I know that when I am angry my body feels hotter, I have more energy. Sometimes it really is like a wave of lava. This brings me to the final rose that I have seen, Lavaglut, which I photographed at the last rose show in Canberra.

Lavaglut, on display at the Canberra rose show in 2014.  Photo by the author.

Lavaglut, on display at the Canberra rose show in 2014. Photo by the author.

Anger is perhaps the most misunderstood of emotions, reviled even. Most of us are taught to shun it from an early age, especially if we were punished for showing it. Alternatively, we learn to fear it if someone in our close circle bursts their anger upon us.

Anger is one of the four basic emotions that all humans have. Cross cultural research suggests that this is consistent across borders, and across other less well defined borders such as age and gender. If this is the case, then surely anger serves some purpose. What might that be?

I have gradually come to believe that anger has a protective function. It exists to let us know when some vital boundary has been crossed, and it means that we need to take some kind of action to restore them. I say gradually because as I grew up, I had a little of both my scenarios. Anger was not acceptable, especially from a girl, and my father was prone to outbursts that would always send me scurrying away to safety.

Recently I’ve been rediscovering my anger, and I can assure you that after more than four decades on the planet pretending that it’s not there, there’s quite a lot of it. Approaching it through the lense of rose appreciation has given me a soft entry to engaging with it. Historically I would never have chosen any of these roses to plant. I lean towards soft and gentle colours, creamy yellows and dusty pinks. I would have judged these ‘anger’ roses for being brash, vulgar or some other negative description. Really, what I was reacting to was the boldness. Anger is a bold emotion, it doesn’t shrink and bow its head and apologise for itself. Nor do these roses.

The only rose that I have currently planted that even approaches these colours is Afternoon Delight. I had noticed that with this garden I had begun to choose bolder colours, rich reds, glowing purples, stronger pinks. I find with some delight that Afternoon Delight is a prelude to a greater me, as I begin to reintegrate lost parts of myself.

I wonder what I could plant next?