I Only Smell The Rose - Do I Exist?Saturday, May 24, 2014
|Rosa 'Charles de Mills' July 14, 2012
We are often faced with the logical conundrum, one that Socrates might have used to stump his “friends” the Sophists on the question if a tree falls in a forest and nobody hears it fall, the event has not happened, or has it?
My version of this one is a photographic one. When American photographer Gary Winogrand died thousands of unprocessed rolls of film were found. They were processed and those images saw the light of day. Had this not happened would those photographs have existed at all? Some of us with some knowledge of photography would have asserted that indeed they were latent images in the unprocessed negatives.
I was thinking about this today, Saturday May 24, 2014 as I walked in our garden about 8pm. At this hour contrast is low and all the shades of green and the muted colours of the few flowers that are in bloom are spectacular in a most subtle way. And this even applies to the lurid, bright red or crimson rhododendrons that came with our house when we moved into it in 1986.
I noticed that in our lane garden Rosa ‘Splendens’ was in bloom. This is a tiny multi-petalled rose that is the only original rose that smells completely differently to any other rose. In the mid 1800s Rosa ‘Belle Isis’ appeared and it had this same complex fragrance that the English call myrrh. Rosa ‘Belle Isis’ became one of the parents of David Austin’s first English Rose in 1968, Rosa ‘Constance Spry'.
I have many roses with this smell that is just about my favourite of all if I forget just for a second the existence of Magnolia grandiflora.
The fact is that my memory is very good for fragrances and as I approached my nose to Rosa ‘Splendens’ I was rewarded with a confirmation that my memory is of yet not failing me.
Not, too far, but inside the garden there was one bloom (not quite open) of the English Rose Rosa ‘Fair Bianca’. It too has that myrrh scent but it is a bit more complex than Splendens. I would add a bit of lemon and magnolia soap (for anybody who might have ever had a cake of it).
The smell of those two roses and of the rest already in bloom now, of Reine des Violettes, Redouté, Hansa, Wild Edric and a mystery rose from Brentwood Bay Nursery for which I lost the label, made me ache in pleasure. It felt almost like the pain one gets when one eats baklava to suddenly find out there is a tooth cavity.
The pain came from the realization that I am the only one who ever smells my roses. The scent is exquisite and yet most of the people I know show no interest.
I recently went to a wonderful concert. The Largo of a Handel sonata was so exquisite that I felt that pain of not being able to figure out why the place was not completely full of people. I simply wanted to share my pleasure.
So my question is, “If I am the only one who smells my roses, do I exist?”
I am illustrating this blog with one of my favourite roses which is not yet in bloom. But the scan of the Charles de Mills (a Gallica Rose) past its prime is so beautiful that I want to eat some baklava. Fortunately I have no cavities.