While the height of the rose season has passed us I am happy to say mine are still blooming, I would be remiss as a gardener if I didn’t honor them in some way! So forgive my tardiness in showcasing my most beloved roses. I was reflecting on the fact that the last three rose seasons have been rather successful ones. This latest was fraught with challenges (excessive dryness) and unpredictable weather patterns but our blooms still emerged gorgeous and abundant. Beauty and strength prevailing in the face of adversity is a rather appropriate allegory for our current times, I’d say!
Roses have taken their place in history as well as current culture as one of the most cherished and romantic of flowers. Men and women all over the world bestow their beloveds with roses as the highest form of admiration and affection. Joe DiMaggio sent Marilyn Monroe’s place of rest six roses, three times a week for 20 years after she passed away. It’s grand, sweeping gestures like this that have made this bloom synonymous with love. 121 years ago, Kate Greenaway’s Language of Flowers was first published. At the time, she identified deep red roses to mean “bashful shame,” white roses to say “I am worthy of you,” red rosebuds as “pure and lovely,” and yellow roses signified a “decrease of love” or “jealousy”. Today, yellow roses indicate friendship and the red is a universal symbol of passionate love. And roses now come in just about every color imaginable!
As a gardener, I think some of the most revered roses have been brought to us by the prolific and talented David Austin (currently, there are over 200 varieties). At a very young age, David had a deep passion and love for nature and plants – an obsession we shared. At age 21, his sister gifted him a copy of E. Bunyard’s Old Garden Roses and a love affair began. By the age of 31, he released his first rose named ‘Constance Spry’ (an absolute favorite of mine, which blooms in abundance outside my studio at Weatherstone). His obsession with old roses and his modern sensibilities inspired him to cross two roses, capturing the best qualities of both in scent, shape and range of color. His roses are now bred not only for perfection of aesthetics, but resistance to disease as well. From pollination to market, this process can take up to 9 years! But they truly are just that special and resplendent!
So much of my design sensibilities and current tastes are rooted in my past experiences and nostalgia for my younger years when I was just starting out in New York City. While beginning my career many years ago as a young design assistant for Oscar de la Renta, I was thrilled to finally set up my very own apartment (as I previously had three roommates!). Mind you, this task was executed on a bit of a shoestring budget, as I was bringing home $126 a week at the time! During this time of my life, there was a wonderful floral designer from Brazil named Renaldo Maia who used to assemble almost chemistry-like glass beakers and vials on a table with just a single flower or two in each vase. The simplicity of this look appealed to my prudent, young eye (and my wallet!). I purchased some vases from his shop and stationed them around my apartment – one on my bedside table, one in the bathroom, one on my small dining table where I ate every day – as a way to bring affordable beauty into my life with just a few well-placed blooms. This was my modern, dignified but simple way to begin and end each day with a touch of elegance. This is a trend that is always on point – affordable beauty and a hint of sophistication can transform a room or a mood just as much as an armful of decadent posies. There is thoughtful, intentional grace in even the smallest of vignettes.
I have always wanted to offer a version of those containers on my website. Recently I discovered a source for small vases in opaque white and transparent cobalt blue that are a nod to those simple looks of my first apartment. The lines of these vases are a more sophisticated, grown-up rendition. The neck of the vase gives you the option to do a single bloom or a few if you choose. Their price point makes it possible for you to use them in groups, either in a line down a long table or in clusters in the middle. I mixed the blue and white vases with a variety of colorful roses in each for a pop of color on a clean, crisp summer table. They are currently offered in the gift section of my website.
As we head into the fall, I am reminded to stay hopeful and enjoy the beauty each season has to offer. The memories of summer are not exactly what they have been in years past, but good health, acts os love and kindness to our fellow man and a beautiful table to gather those we love around are enough for me in any season.
Wishing you peace and calm in your final days of summer and a renewed sense of purpose as we move through these times together!