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From Russia With Love. Wednesday June 8, 2016

If you want to be happy for a week, says the old adage, buy a car. If you want to be happy for a year, then take a wife. If you want to be happy for the rest of your life, plant a garden.

I would never claim to be a gardener. My forte is weeding. I can weed with the best of them, and I have discovered an almost fool proof way of discovering if some unknown bit of foliage is a valued plant or a weed: you simply give it a gentle tug. If it comes up with little or no resistance, then it was a plant. Oops!

But I do love my garden and just at the moment it is glorious. The irises are mostly over, but the peonies are hanging on, the lilac is swamping the whole place with its heady scent and competing with the honeysuckle draped over the wall from next door. The borders are burgeoning with red hot pokers, alliums, foxgloves, snapdragons and the roses are now in full bloom.

I know of no more pleasurable sensation than to bury one's face in the velvety fragrance of a deep red rose, after of course, first checking to ensure no bee has had the same idea!

We tend to think of roses as being quintessentially English, or at least European, and we are familiar with their long history and literary significance, right from the middle ages. There is a story called "Roman de la Rose" written in 1260 by Guillaume de Lorris; a tale about a young man's search for love, using the Rosa Gallica as an allegorical subject of his love. But there are records showing that roses were grown in Egypt as far back as 1300BC.

And roses are hardy. They take the heat and they will stand the cold. They will grow in sub-tropical conditions and in sub-arctic climates too.

They seem to bring people together.

My friend Raz is planting a memorial garden and we were discussing the roses he should plant high up on a windy mountain side. Now I have friends who grow roses in the Philippines and in Arizona, and they have opinions. Raz brought an Italian friend into the discussion (Google Translate is a wonderful thing for non-polyglots like me). Then a contribution from Kamchatka showed up. I didn't even know where Kamchatka is; it's a peninsula on the far east side of Russia, north of the Okhotsk Sea. It is covered in snow for six months of the year and even in summer temperatures reach only 16°C, but yet here too are roses. The warmth of fellowship travelled over with the photographs of people's flowers.

Whether it is the semi tundra of Russia, the deserts of Arizona, an Italian mountainside or my Cambridgeshire walled garden, roses and friendship grow equally well.

The rose question settled, we're now onto violets.

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Both smell sweet
And bring happiness too.

Or something like that.

A Moodscope member

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Orangeblossom Wed, Jun 8th 2016 @ 6:26am

Thanks for the blog Mary. I enjoyed reading it very much indeed! Hope that you have a chance to spend time in your garden today

Paul Wed, Jun 8th 2016 @ 6:42am

I enjoyed reading it too Mary.
Only last night I was smelling a rose in the garden it was amazing how sweet the scent was, immediately made you feel nice . My wife tells me it nice as its a very old rose. So maybe the oldies are the best. I like the weed trick will try that, so the weeds are a bit like our not pleasant thoughts very hard to get rid of.

I read some years ago a nice little saying,

Never worry
Never hurry
But always stop and smell the flowers.

Short and sweet but can be hard to apply


Carol Anne Wed, Jun 8th 2016 @ 7:02am

Thanks for your blog Mary. It's lovely.
I've a real love for the garden. I go on holiday to Rhodes today, and everything in my garden is about to burst in to bloom.

I've thought over the last few days, 'typical I'll miss the best of it'....I'll be gone just a week, and the hotel I'm going to is sure to have beautiful gardens which I can enjoy.

My husband has zero interest in the garden. He see's it as a hobby. That's my hobby he says and his is watching sport on tv. It's funny how we are so different in many ways, yet perfectly matched in others.

I'll gush at new buds/blooms - he's just poker face and doesn't get any joy whatsoever from those things.

At the moment it's the garden and the birds keeping me busy in my spare time. Hard to keep up with topping up the bird feeders for the busy starlings, blackbirds, starlings, tits, robins etc.

I'm not expert in either gardening or birds but I get pleasure and it definitely lifts my mood to put care and attention in those places.

Have a wonderful day and thanks for the learning, hadn't considered Russia having roses before.
I'm off to the airport in 4 hours.

Tutti Frutti Wed, Jun 8th 2016 @ 8:00am

Have a good time. TF

Tutti Frutti Wed, Jun 8th 2016 @ 7:57am

Mary Thanks for the blog which was a lovely read to start the day with, and as the others say informative too. (I didn't know how widespread roses are or about the Roman due la Rose.) I particularly liked your revised version of 'roses are red' and the bit about looking out for bees before plunging your nose into a rose.
Love TF

LillyPet Wed, Jun 8th 2016 @ 8:44am

Hi Mary,
I enjoyed your blog too. I did lots of weeding after work yesterday and smiled at the irony of my having commented to ratg that I let the universe do the hard work of untanglling! (She'll be able to guess what we had for dinner too!)
Ive always thought that if I were a flower I'd be a rose, alot of loveliness with very sharp thorns to protect myself with.
Thanks for a wonderful blog. Now the weeding's done I can see and enjoy the roses! Love to all. LP xx

LillyPet Wed, Jun 8th 2016 @ 8:44am

Hi Mary,
I enjoyed your blog too. I did lots of weeding after work yesterday and smiled at the irony of my having commented to ratg that I let the universe do the hard work of untanglling! (She'll be able to guess what we had for dinner too!)
Ive always thought that if I were a flower I'd be a rose, alot of loveliness with very sharp thorns to protect myself with.
Thanks for a wonderful blog. Now the weeding's done I can see and enjoy the roses! Love to all. LP xx

Lou Wed, Jun 8th 2016 @ 8:57am


I loved the description of your garden - I could almost see it in it's glorious array of colours. Thanks for the lovely image!


Ruth Wed, Jun 8th 2016 @ 11:49am

Am stuck in noisy, busy central London. However, I could actually smell the roses in your post, Mary. I love that my garden in Dorset gives to me freely and constantly. Such a privilege to be able to tend something that I can borrow until the next person borrows it. Thank you all. Ruth.

Vivien Wed, Jun 8th 2016 @ 12:10pm

Mary - how true about your garden. I find gardening therapeutic. Yep, I've pulled up 'weeds' only to find it is a plant. I used to work in an office where there was a lot of 'ill' feeling (both staff & customers) - I found that even just 30 minutes in the garden when I got home was a great way to get rid of 'stress' - I also find it a great way to think things through and start to sort problems out. Thanks for your blog - enjoy your garden! Viv

g Wed, Jun 8th 2016 @ 1:22pm

Even if it is from Russia and one expects a broken English post by second sentence ( some smell it straight away ) one knows that it must be Mary . I admire this level of productivity to highest standards. I am in awe more and more ...... but I miss HO and my daily joke ! and obviously worry - so , please , somebody , if you know , enlighten me to his whereabouts today as he has been every day so far almost on the dot around eight o'clock posting wise and funny.

The Gardener Wed, Jun 8th 2016 @ 3:57pm

You don't need me to add to what you've said, Mary. Carol Anne says her husband says it's her 'hobby'. There are so many more facets - the house you fall in love with may have a garden, and you have to do something about it - can be daunting. 50% of the visitors to my garden say 'it's a lot of work' pityingly, as if I'm mad to subject myself to 'work'. Gardens and roses in particular have provoked so many quotes. Vivien is right about the therapy - nothing like a potter in the garden to de-stress - I have never lived without a garden - don't know how you could, millions have no choice. My best-ever garden will go with the house (when it sells) but I have literally 'annexed' the presbytery garden, which I consider a master stroke. Amusing yesterday, I have got the lawn nicely under control - our Cameroonian vicar had obviously been to the launderette - his 'smalls' laid out on the lawn in the sun. We had a glorious social morning, and slept all night! Mr G has now turned foul, are we downhearted? No, but he will get a pill so the temper does not descend and wreck the evening.

Ruthless Thu, Jun 9th 2016 @ 12:51am

Was @ my Mums place @ the weekend and we were actually smelling the roses,she has some beauties flowering in her beautiful garden which looks over Palace House and the river
So tranquil and quiet,weeding is so good for stress leaves me very calm and I see the results.I love it!!
Take care Mary
From another Mary......x????

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