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Roses on Your Table

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Lately I’ve forgotten to stop and smell the roses, but I tell myself I should. I live in a fairly cold climate, so waiting for the roses to bloom in June is not an option for me. Instead, I’ve gotten into the habit of buying roses.

Fresh roses pick me up when I’m feeling droopy. Although a dozen long stem roses or tea roses are preferable, my pocketbook prefers about six plain roses now and then.

Buying roses is an indulgence, but one that reminds me to pause and reflect more, too. I recently discovered, a Web site that offers framed photos of flowers—something a little more permanent. A portion of the proceeds goes to Heifer International, a nonprofit that works to end world hunger and poverty. Now that’s something to reflect on!

Rose Language

Everyone has her own opinion about what each color signifies. There are no hard and fast rules, but here’s my take:

• Red: Passion, respect, and courage; it says “I love you.”

• White: Innocence and purity; it says “You’re heavenly.” Of course, it’s a common color used at funerals, so it can be equated with death, too. This can be positive or negative, depending on your experience.

• Light pink: Admiration

• Pink: Grace; I’ve given several baby showers. I often mix pink and light pink roses in the bouquets I create.

• Dark pink: Gratitude and admiration; I always thought dark pink would be perfect for a boss I admired, though I’ve never actually done it.

• Yellow: Joy and gladness; after my mom gave birth to my younger brother, some family members brought yellow roses to the hospital room. I still remember his tiny face amid all the yellow roses.

• Coral: Enthusiasm; verve


Florists are like restaurants—once you’ve been, you know what to expect. In my experience, if it’s a good place, it’s consistently good. The same goes for online florists, nurseries, street vendors, and corner stores.

When I purchase roses, I try to find ones that will give me maximum vase life. I look for petals that are firm and hydrated and feel crisp to the touch—never wilted looking. If the buds are too tight and hard, they’ve been harvested too early and won’t last long. I choose the petals that are slightly open and just beginning to unfurl.

I also check the sepals (green petals just below the flower). These should be starting to bend away from the flower slightly, indicating it was picked at the right stage of development. I opt for stems that are straight and strong with a healthy color.


I can double and sometimes triple the life of my roses with proper care. The ones I’ve neglected quickly die out, sort of like relationships. The more I feed it, the more it blooms.

In my experience roses need a lot of water, but how much depends on the kind I buy.

Roses with florofoam in the vase: I add water slowly so as to thoroughly saturate the stems; then I add water each day so the foam is always under water.

Roses in a box: These roses tend to be cold in temperature. I keep them cool—but not frozen—until I’m ready to arrange them. Once I have a vase in mind, I cut off one inch of the stem, cut off the leaves that are below the water line of the vase, and put the roses in warm water.

Roses in a glass vase: Top off the vase with fresh water and replace the water every two days. I often put an aspirin or two at the bottom of the vase so they last longer.


I put my roses in a cool place away from the sun or any heat sources or drafts. In the winter season, if it’s dry, I will spritz the petals just slightly for added moisture.

I put roses on the corner of my desk so I can smell them periodically throughout the day to feel calm and relaxed, no matter what the day brings. It’s a good reminder for me to stop what I’m doing and ponder life a bit—even for a few minutes.

Emma Goldman said, “I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.” As much as I’m a fan of Tiffany’s, I think she may have been right. (Well, roses are a lot cheaper anyway.)


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