An Unexpected Rose Garden

Rose5In the parking lot of a shop called El Rey, of all places, I came upon this small garden of roses yesterday. I was rushing to make a purchase of something relatively unimportant, and when I got out of the car after parking I did not even notice the garden.

But when I came back out after the purchase it was almost cinematic the way, from a distance, I noticed the garden right in front of where I had parked. It was like a ray of light focused on that part of the parking lot of El Rey, telling me to come over and, yes, stop and smell the roses.

As I got closer, there was a tinge of thoughts like, no time for this, and: it will likely disappoint because this is not where rose gardens flourish.

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I fought those doubts off and the reward was remarkable. I have never tried growing my own roses, so it would be strange to claim an obsession with this flower. But I do favor it. When we lived in Croatia I developed a theory, never disproven, that the most fragrant roses in the world are in monasteries built centuries ago. In that theory the roses are antiques, tended by monks and nuns who have ensured survival of the fittest roses. And fitness is evidenced by fragrance.

By the time I had walked over to this garden the cinematic effect was slow motion. I tried to avoid cliche, but nonetheless found myself slowing to a stop. To smell the roses.

And my theory fell apart. These roses were as fragrant as if they had been planted here hundreds of years earlier.

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This one above seemed to confirm one of my other silly assumptions, that a rose can either put its effort into dazzling color, or fragrance, but must choose. Likewise the one below, which was the deepest most natural red I remember ever seeing, but not as fragrant as others in the garden.

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And just next to it, a white one with a variation that caught my attention, in the lower of the two flowers below, where I suppose the fragrance is produced. Before the flower opens it seems pure white but when it opens it offers stimulating color. A choice made that did not diminish its intense fragrance.

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The one below, with white outer petals and pink at the core, was the most fragrant, perhaps because perfectly mature, with the outer petals preparing to drop but the core at maximum strength. And the mix of color, combined with the intensity of fragrance, was the one that forced me to abandon my various rose theories. The garden attendant in this parking lot rivals any of the monks and nuns who I have thanked in the past for their rose-tending, and this white-pink mix tells me roses have more tricks up their sleeves than I gave them credit for.

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