Take Time To Smell The Roses – An Unexpected Journey With A Potted Rose

By Nikki Tilley | February 14, 2021
Image by Nadtochiy
by Nikki Tilley
February 14, 2021

As the old proverb says, “Take time to smell the roses.” 

I always tell people it’s the little things in life that count most. For me, many of these little things can be found in the garden. Watching the wind carry a leaf through the air, swaying back and forth like a majestic dance until it gently falls to the soft earth below. Catching a glimpse of hard-working pollinators buzzing or flitting about from one flower to the next. Maybe it’s nothing more than a simple five-toed impression in the soil, the garden’s reaction to an unspoken nighttime visitor. And, of course, smelling the roses, some having scents so lovely you’re instantly swept away to distant lands, though your feet are firmly planted where you stand.

And who couldn’t love a rose? They’re some of the most beautiful flowering plants you can grow in the garden. Why then did it take me so long to appreciate this? 

My Potted Rose Companion

Other than one particular container rose that I’ve brought with me during every move since I’ve had it (and that’s probably been around 25 years or so so), roses in the garden was something I hadn’t attempted to grow. Don’t get me wrong, I adore them, thorns and all. I’ve been pricked by many. I’m a gardener. I know how to grow roses, but didn’t. After much contemplation over this, I finally figured out why. It was the fact that roses are permanent figures in a garden. On average, rose shrubs live about 15 years or so, though some varieties (and well cared for specimens) can last about 35 years or even longer. I hadn’t yet found my “permanent” home. 

Though my first marriage lasted over a decade, it wasn’t home. I always knew in the back of my mind somehow that I would one day leave that abusive world. And then I did. Until I got settled, I moved at least two or three more times, my trusty potted rose plant always by my side. The soft pink rose was given to me from a friend and mentor. He coaxed me into gardening in my early twenties as his nursery assistant. The rose was just one of many potted plants for sale. Little did I know that this rose would come to mean so much.

One Container Rose to Roses in the Garden

Roses, by nature, can be tough plants. Yes, it’s true that some may be more finicky than others and require additional care. But, overall, most roses are resilient and long-lived plants. Through one move after another, my potted rose has survived. A testament to me that I would too. And I did. I found love again. We’ll soon be celebrating twenty years together. And the rose is still with me, but has since been relocated to a permanent location in my garden, just outside the kitchen window where I can take time to enjoy the memories of our journey together.

I don’t know the exact rose I have. I do know that some years she blooms prolifically and others not a one. But I don’t care. She’s still just as strong and lovely as ever. And I’ve since “rose” to the challenge, adding others to the landscape. I’ve opted for low-maintenance roses in the garden – my favorites are the Oso Easy roses. I have Paprika and Italian Ice. I also grow a couple Knock Out roses in white and pink varieties. I planted a drift rose in the back garden, and a beautiful purple Ebb Tide floribunda is situated in the garden bed at the side of the house. There’s a miniature rose bush with coral blooms that resemble peonies. It was already here tucked away in the back corner under too much shade. I transplanted it to a sunnier location and it’s thrived. I even successfully grew a rose cutting from it and now that bush is planted out front. 

Take time to smell the roses.” Why in the world did it take so long to appreciate how a rose could mean so much?

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