You steal my roses, the things I love most in all the world. . . You could have taken anything – except my roses. ~ from Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast
A perfect first day of summer, the solstice, the longest day of the year. The roses are celebrating, having a raucous party in the garden while they soak up the sun and feed the bees. The height of rose bloom always brings to mind one of my favorite movies, Jean Cocteau’s 1946 masterpiece “Beauty and the Beast” (La Belle et la Bête). In a magical film that still delights and intrigues me with its whimsical imagery and cinematic beauty, the scene that comes to mind is when Beauty’s hapless father plucks a rose from the Beast’s garden as a gift for his daughter and is immediately confronted for his crime.
How ironic that I moved here twelve years ago so that I would have more gardening space for roses, and all of the roses I planted the first year died over the winter. The daylilies that I brought thrived in the heavy clay soil and shrugged off deer and rabbit attacks. Not so the lovely English roses, who were far too genteel to survive this robust and challenging garden microclimate. To be without roses was unthinkable, so I began a long experimentation with roses safely ensconced behind garden walls – who was sassy enough to survive in an organic garden with no spraying and no artificial fertilizer?
Old roses, a few of the hardier English roses on their own roots, stalwart Griffith Buck roses, a few Canadian and shrub roses – all became part of the garden landscape, surrounded by geraniums, lambs ear, and other gentle plant companions. The summer sun triggers the rose perfume; each morning begins with thousands of petals of color, heady fragrance, and the songs of bees nestling in for a little more pollen. You could take anything from me- except my roses.
All images ©2013 by Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved.
Remastered and released by Criterion, La Belle et La Bête is now available on DVD and Blueray. (B&W, in French with English subtitles) A film treasure.
I buy most of my “own root” roses from Roses Unlimited, they are shipped in pots in beautiful condition. Wonderful source!