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?

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