The Promise Of a Blossom

Out of my window I can see a rose bush. This is my Ukrainian window, of course, because out of my Belgian window I see the Mondrian-like grid of buildings, the pale ribbon of the skies, and in the distance, the red tiled roofs that reveal the Nordic roots of Brussels, a town with a Gallic accent. If I peer hard enough, I can see my neighbor’s roses across the street, but having one’s own rose bush is infinitely better, and for a part of the year, I have that pleasure.

The rose bush is awakening slowly, and as I take a break from writing and look out of the open window, I see that each day the buds look fuller. At first, they are hard and green, like unripe cherries. Then, they swell, and I can catch a glimpse of a dark pink petal. Observing the flower opening is like watching a butterfly break out of a cocoon and spread its wings. For this reason, the French word éclore that means both to open and to hatch is so appropriate for describing the opening of the buds. The promise of a new bud is a promise of changes, beauty and even magic. The kind of everyday magic that nature offers generously.


Colette was onto something when she wrote, “It’s so curious: one can resist tears and ‘behave’ very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer… and everything collapses.” The promise of a blossom is also a promise of hope and love.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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50 Comments

  • Anne: Beautiful! A perfect thing to read on a busy Monday. June 4, 2018 at 9:26am Reply

  • maja: This reads like a haiku. Thanks. June 4, 2018 at 10:13am Reply

  • Filomena: Your writing is so beautiful. I love roses in every color and form. Thank you! June 4, 2018 at 11:41am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for your kind words.
      I do too, especially from the garden, rather than a florist shop. June 5, 2018 at 6:02am Reply

      • Emilie: Florists rarely seem to use the scented roses do they? It seems a bit sad. Surely a bouquet should be enjoyed with all the senses? June 5, 2018 at 8:26am Reply

        • Victoria: The florist roses are the unscented varieties bred for for the color and the perfect rose shape. I try to avoid them, especially the politics and economics of growing them are ugly. The cut flower business in roses is one of the most polluting for the environment in Africa and Latin America. June 6, 2018 at 9:41am Reply

          • Eudora: Very interesting. I remember reading about it, about roses coming from… Nigeria? And something very similar happens with other flowers and plants you buy those days in the supermarket or in the flowers shop, it feels the same… Like fast fashion, fast food, fast plants and flowers… June 6, 2018 at 10:55am Reply

            • Victoria: Very true. Making the simplest of choices is not easy at all. June 6, 2018 at 12:29pm Reply

          • Emilie: That is truly awful! Hmm gives even more reason to give flowers picked from your own garden or carefully selected from nature as gifts.

            Though I did once pick our neighbours prized roses to give to my Mum for Mother’s Day as a child… that did not go well… June 6, 2018 at 8:35pm Reply

  • Michelle Peek: It is one of my great joys in life, watching my roses bloom. Each morning when they are blooming I can’t wait to check what is new in my garden! June 4, 2018 at 2:03pm Reply

    • Victoria: These days are warm, so every morning is discovery. It still amazes me how a thorny, dry stalk can turn green and lush and sprout fragrant blossoms. June 5, 2018 at 6:05am Reply

      • Michelle Peek: I agree! June 6, 2018 at 2:35am Reply

  • Gabriela: You have an incredible talent for putting beauty into words. Wonderful article, very touched by it.
    I also have flowers buds and feel just the way you do, a feeling of hope and joy. June 4, 2018 at 3:16pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much. Which flowers are blossoming around you? June 5, 2018 at 6:06am Reply

      • Gabriela: My mother in law gave us a Christmas plant, its very traditional here in Spain to buy this plant, its color is red. The name is Euphorbia pulcherrima or simply Christmas tree.

        The other one is called Anthurium. Yesterday, after reading your article, I called the children before the bedtime story to see a small white flower bud.

        I have started to tell them stories from the books I read, they enjoy it immensely. June 5, 2018 at 6:38am Reply

  • Mel: Hi, Victoria! I didn’t realize you got to stay in the Ukraine for extended periods of time. How wonderful to be able to escape from gridscapes in Belgium and into the untamed beauty and earthy sensations of nature! Your stories about your native home really make me want to go there!!! June 4, 2018 at 3:18pm Reply

    • Victoria: I can’t recommend visiting Ukraine enough. It has so many gorgeous places to discover, great food, nature, architecture. I myself have been rediscovering it during these extended stays. June 5, 2018 at 6:08am Reply

  • zephyr: The photograph is perfect with your words – and Colette’s. Thank you. June 4, 2018 at 4:08pm Reply

    • Victoria: This rose is my great-grandmother’s. I made rose jam from it last year. June 5, 2018 at 6:08am Reply

      • zephyr: Wonderful that at least you can visit this rose bush! And wonderful that it’s still going strong. I’ve had rose jam a few times, but of course not made by me. I like it; very subtle. So special that you can make your own from your great-grandmother’s roses. June 5, 2018 at 2:11pm Reply

        • Victoria: Fauchon used to make a good rose jam, but some of the best are from Turkey, Iran, Lebanon, Bulgaria, the rose growing countries. June 6, 2018 at 9:42am Reply

          • zephyr: Good to know, if I happen to see rose jam! Coincidentally, this month’s Better Homes and Gardens June issue has several recipes that incorporate roses, plus instructions on how to make rose water, syrup, and vinegar, and where to find culinary rose petals if you don’t have your own. If you don’t have the magazine, you can check their website, go to the “magazine” tab, and then go to the section that says June 2018 recipes. I’ve bookmarked several – they look interesting. June 6, 2018 at 11:09pm Reply

            • Emilie: Rose jam is a favourite breakfast spread of mine and also filling for doughnuts. Even more I like lilac jam, though it is pretty much unavailable in Australia. However it is easy enough to make your own (just pounding up a whole lot of lilac petals with sugar in a mortar and pestle).

              Just curious if anyone else has eaten or made this delicious, delicate spread? June 7, 2018 at 3:38am Reply

  • Emilie: You always write so well about nature 🙂 It is a pleasure to read. That rose looks like it will have a very vivid and dramatic colour when it blooms.

    I learned a new beautiful word today: éclore! It would make a wonderful name for a perfume too I think. June 4, 2018 at 9:54pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s rosa damascena, from what I’ve been able to determine. The scent is very rich, sweet, honeyed, and citrusy. June 5, 2018 at 6:10am Reply

      • Emilie: Ah yes I know this rose! We don’t have any in our current garden but my old house had a few bushes. They have a very rich scent. June 5, 2018 at 8:24am Reply

        • Victoria: I dry the petals, since they keep their scent well. June 6, 2018 at 9:40am Reply

  • Tara C: I love roses! In my garden in California I planted highly scented hybrids, such as Tropicana, Abraham Lincoln and Double Delight. Burying your face in warm fragrant flowers is such a pleasure. The lilac has just finished blooming here in Montréal, I enjoyed them thoroughly. June 5, 2018 at 7:15am Reply

    • Victoria: Here the memory of lilacs is fading. This spring was too warm, so their season was even shorter. June 6, 2018 at 9:39am Reply

  • Eudora: Your post eclore
    Our gratitude
    Too June 6, 2018 at 7:25am Reply

    • Victoria: Ah, thank you so much. 🙂 June 6, 2018 at 9:43am Reply

  • Silvermoon: Victoria, thank you for this beautiful article/post. As others already mentioned, you write very beautifully about nature and land/cityscapes. Such a pleasure to read and conjure images of them. I love roses, whether the flowers themselves or in perfume or even in edible form. This afternoon I had time to wonder around my garden and noticed the rose plant had four flowers unfurled. Sweet smelling deep red and speckled/striated white blooms. And I spotted seven different flowering plants today, which I immediately photographed. We moved into this house last autumn, so just discovering what the previous owners had in the garden. I will be more active with it next year. June 7, 2018 at 12:20pm Reply

    • Victoria: What fun! It’s as if you have buried treasures everywhere and every season is a discovery. June 12, 2018 at 2:21am Reply

  • Aurora: The promise of a blossom, to stop and smell the roses, yes, I agree with you totally, there is a little bit of magic in them. On my way down to the bus there is a rose bush, small delicate pink blossoms with honey dipped passionfruit scent. It’s such a treat to smell them for a moment. June 9, 2018 at 11:22am Reply

  • OperaFan: I am very late to comment.

    My roses have been going on an extended initial blooming run, starting about mid-May. Everywhere in my yard there are colors and fragrances to delight the eyes and nose. They are one of my greatest joys.

    I have watched them in anticipation since the green buds began forming on the stems late winter/early spring. I can appreciate the experience you described so beautifully on this page. June 19, 2018 at 4:30pm Reply

    • Andy: OperaFan, I always love reading about your roses! I can’t remember what varietal you had described, but I know you had mentioned some exquisite David Austen ones that were absolutely spectacular looking (on the website, where I could spend days), with a riveting scent to match. It reminds me that gardens are such an immense gift; for all you put in, they give back generously in return. June 20, 2018 at 9:05am Reply

      • OperaFan: Sorry Andy – I meant to reply directly here, but somehow my reply ended being a comment. See comment immediately below. June 20, 2018 at 11:32am Reply

  • OperaFan: Andy – Thank you so much for your comment. Yes, all but one of the roses I grow are David Austins, the exception being Souvenir de la Malmaison.
    I first read about his roses in the mid-90’s and was fascinated with the concept of old rose characteristics developed for modern sensibility gardeners. I fell in love with their visual charm and their varied fragrances. I have 17 DA’s in all but my personal favorite is Sharifa Asama for the combination of both stunning beauty and smell. June 20, 2018 at 11:31am Reply

    • Andy: Yes, it was the Sharifa Asama that you had described! I have no experience with roses, but I have a spot along a low fence that I think could be a good place to go for one of the Austin climbers, perhaps Gertrude Jekyll or A Shropshire Lad (claims to be nearly thornless, which would be a nice quality for maintenance purposes). Or perhaps you have a recommendation? I’m in Zone 7, which I think is a suitable climate for most varieties. June 20, 2018 at 1:06pm Reply

      • OperaFan: I’m in the central NJ shore zone, so somewhere in the lower zone 6 to upper 7 region.
        Shropshire Lad is one of his older varieties, and I would believe them if they say it’s nearly thornless. Heritage, one of my earliest fits that characteristic, but it’s hard to find nowadays.
        I have a few climber types: B.Britten, Tess of the d’Urbervilles, and J.Galway, which was new to me last year. These all have thorns. Tess and BB, both red – you can’t get near. Luckly their blooms are both divine. 🙂
        I’d love to know how yours turn out. June 21, 2018 at 1:34pm Reply

        • Andy: I’m in South Jersey, further inland toward Philadelphia, so mostly similar conditions to what you have I’d expect, if slightly warmer. I will have to keep all these ideas in mind, and let you know what comes of it! June 22, 2018 at 11:54am Reply

          • OperaFan: What a small world – I grew up in Cherry Hill.
            I’d be happy to continue the conversation offline, or you are welcome to ask me questions or send progress reports. I would certainly be interested in growing A Shropshire Lad (the next time I get the itch to acquire more roses).
            Victoria has my permission to give you my email. 🙂 June 25, 2018 at 2:45pm Reply

            • Andy: Apologies for my delay, I have been traveling for the past several days. Cherry Hill is just around the corner from me, a very small world indeed! I would be delighted to be able to continue the conversation offline, especially given your experience with roses. June 28, 2018 at 4:43pm Reply

              • Operafan: I sent a note to V.
                😊 July 1, 2018 at 11:32pm Reply

  • Liina: This was such a touching read, that it made me teary eyed. We have pale pink rose hips under the bedroom window in our summer house and each year I eagerly wait for them to blossom. The scent is so intense and tender at the same time that I have to re-evaluate again – it is better than lily of the valleys, lilacs or peonies that all hold the throne at various times during summer. July 2, 2018 at 3:45pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for your beautiful comment, Liina. I enjoyed reading it and imagining–and smelling–all of the flowers you mentioned in comparison to rose.
      The intriguing thing about rose is that it has elements of lily of the valley, lilac, and peony in its fragrance, but of course, different varieties smell slightly differently. July 4, 2018 at 12:12am Reply

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