Some people call roses boring. A cliché. Predictable. Unimaginative. Some people prefer calla lilies and rare orchids, exotic birds of paradise and carnations (once relegated to the back of the class with roses, but now enjoying a revival). Some people prefer their petunias in plastic. Some people should have their heads examined.
Me, I like my roses – thorns and all. Whether tightly closed virginal buds or brazenly in full bloom, there’s something so perfect about this flower. My attachment to roses goes a long way back, for the first one I ever received was from my father. I was five going on six and he was away travelling. On my birthday my mother came to pick me up from school, and there on the car seat was the largest bouquet of red roses and delicate baby breath I had ever seen. Next to them a giant card from my father. This was before flowers came from industrial hot houses in the Netherlands, a time when blooms still exuded their god given fragrance. Fifteen years later, a man I had just met sent me flowers on my birthday. Red roses and white baby breath. Perhaps it was at that moment I realised he was a keeper.
So last weekend as we tromped down the short narrow lane that is Columbia Road Flower Market, awash with rain and the many hues of proteas, tulips and cherry blossoms I couldn’t help but fall for the giant bundles of roses. The drizzle dampened no ones enthusiasm, as men, women and dogs tramped about in search of a bloom of their own. Stall owners selling bulbs, seeds, flowers and trees shouted out offers and bargains, calling on the men to treat sweethearts and on women to treat themselves. As others went away arms full of gerberas, daffodils and narcissi I carted home forty long stems of old fashioned romance. I sit here looking at my roses as they gently shed their petals, glad they are there to keep me company on this cold day in March. They bring to my home the promise of summer and a reminder of the past.