Saturday, 23 October 2010

Bed Of Roses

My lovely son, the Professional Gardener, brought me home an armful of roses that he had taken from the last of the summer's display, and I've been enjoying them in a jug on the kitchen table for several days. You simply can't beat garden roses - nothing you get in a florist will ever approach the naturalness and sweet scent of garden roses. And they are all the more enjoyed now, being the last armfuls we are likely to get, - many roses continue with sporadic flowerings during the early winter, but this is the last month for really generous bunches.

As I was drinking my coffee this morning a clump of petals fell off onto the table with a soft thud, and it struck me how they are still lovely, even after they have fallen, and in fact it put me in mind of a line from Shelley "Rose leaves, when the rose is dead, Are heap'd for the beloved's bed".

Let's hope old Percy was thinking rose petals, not "leaves" in the sense that we know them, as the leathery and rather prickly leaves of the rose would make a considerably less attractive proposition as a bed. I expect it's poetic licence or something, what do I know. What I do know though, whilst we're on the romantic theme,  is that you can make your own wedding confetti from dried rose petals very easily. I did it for my own wedding quite successfully. Just gather the petals as they fall and put them in a single layer in a warm place to dry for a few days, if it's a shotgun wedding and you're in a hurry you can dry them on a paper towel in the microwave, but be careful not to overcook and brown them. And if you're not thinking of getting married, they make good pot pourri too.

The Shelley poem I mentioned is a well known favourite about the impermanence of physical things and yet how such things live on in the memory. Funnily enough I know it more as a song than a poem as I used to sing a setting of it in the school choir. Here's the full text

Music, when soft voices die,
Vibrates in the memory,
Odours, when sweet violets sicken,
Live within the sense they quicken.

Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,
Are heap'd for the beloved's bed;
And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,
Love itself shall slumber on.

Percy Byshhe Shelley


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