June 22, 2017

"Be honest: the roses one encounters in daily life are, mostly, hideous."

"Think of the colors: syphilitically inflamed orange, or highlighter-pen salmon, or nylon pink, or overripe-banana yellow. How often have you bent to smell a neighbor’s rose, ready to snort up a lungful of Turkish-delight deliciousness, only to discover no scent at all?... What’s more, they are dangerous.... Haven’t you heard the stories of gardeners who, after a single rose-thorn puncture, lost an arm, or more? Would you keep a shark in your front yard?... Roses are not urban beasts. So, although we may dream of an elegant granite wall with a Mme. de Something rose arching against it in sweet-smelling pearly swags, the reality is considerably grimmer: my taxi-driver neighbor’s viciously pruned, yellow-budded toilet brushes, or the suburban crematoria whose residents are united by the horrible lollipop standards on their resting places. There is a simple solution: let’s give up on the scentless, hard-pruned, spiky Day-Glo disasters. Henceforth, licenses will be issued only to those with space to do them justice...."

From "Let's Ban Roses" by the novelist Charlotte Mendelson (in The New Yorker).

38 comments:

Eleanor said...

I'd rather ban the New Yorker.

BDNYC said...

Her "taxi-driver neighbor"? Do I detect some classism?

Kevin said...

The entire Lefty argument in a nutshell - it's all here!

Although you've had X all your life, you don't really need it. There are other ways to get X-ness. And X is dangerous. It's not safe to allow X to continue. Well yes, X can be useful but only in special circumstances. The government must protect us from the hazards of X through a strict licensing process. The licenses will be given out based on criteria deterred by the government.

All those in good stead with the government will get licenses for X, while others will be denied.

You have made the world a much better place through your focus on this important issue! Please continue the struggle by donating to the people who fought so hard to make these changes happen.

#suckers

Kevin said...

Would you keep a shark in your front yard?

That line was the best.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

She needs Jesus, or maybe some Timber Hawkeye, or counseling. Settle down, honey. That's an inappropriate amount of hostility over something that brings others enjoyment and costs you nothing. It's easy to ignore things that others like and you find awful. Tattoos, for example.

If we must ban something, can it be the "Why Some Cherished or Mundane Bit of Americana is Actually Terrible" genre, popularized by Slate, Salon and Vox?

CJinPA said...

Charlotte Mendelson has a great life. I hope she appreciates it. Getting paid well to produce an extended blog post. Everything's coming up roses for her. Ugly, ugly roses.

tcrosse said...

This article was grossly over-grown, and would benefit from some severe pruning.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Wow I also must suggest, after reading the first paragraph, that she is quite ignorant as well. She makes the point that roses are popular, but displays no awareness of their quite ancient and widespread religious and cultural significance.

Fernandinande said...

I'd never take any advice from someone who is so low-class that they have a, sniff, taxi driver for a neighbor.

Bay Area Guy said...

Most of the roses I see are very nice-looking.

Has the author run out of topics to explore? The article seemed kinda pointless. Maybe, there is a strike at the New Yorker and she is a scab-writer.

Laslo Spatula said...

Found this article from the author in The Guardian...

Salad days: how author Charlotte Mendelson transformed her patio into a garden larder...

"This is my confession: my comically small town garden, a mere six square metres of urban soil and a few pots, is not a scented idyll of rambling roses, or an elegant, if overstyled, space in which to drink prosecco..."

"I love my tomato plants, a little too much. In the infinitely seductive world of vegetables, they have rare power. Merely their names are enough to quicken the pulse: ‘Merveilles des Marchés’, ‘Black Opal’, ‘Harbinger’, ‘Cherokee Purple’, ‘Indigo Beauty’, ‘Moonglow’, ‘Bloody Butcher’. Those of us who are vulnerable to a really good name can be manipulated mercilessly; we’d buy ping-pong balls if the right noun and colour were combined...."

A tomato by any other name is still a tomato.

I am Laslo.

Bad Lieutenant said...

A tomato by any other name is still a tomato.


Oh, have you seen pix of the author?

rehajm said...

Garden Nazi.

Laslo Spatula said...

"Oh, have you seen pix of the author?"

I did. However, I did not want to be sexist by commenting on her looks.

Yeah: I wrote that.

I am Laslo.

chickelit said...

The deceased woman who owned the townhouse we're renovating loved roses. I've been watering her rose garden and attendant weeds for months now, solely because there is a very healthy citrus tree as a centerpiece. I'm going to cull most of the roses with extreme prejudice, based on appearance and smell.

chuck said...

Click bait.

richlb said...

We have a rose bush in our back yard up against the house. The blooms are always short-lived compared to many other flowers we have landscaped around. The leaves are methodically devoured by some microscopic insect we can never seem to eradicate (or even see, it seems). So 10-11 months of the year it's nothing but a barren thorny vine. I hate it but my wife loves it.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I acknowledge that Ms. Mendelson's thoughts are mesmerizing.

bagoh20 said...

"Would you keep a shark in your front yard? "

Wait, I can do that? Hell yea, I would! Especially if it came in colorful hues and had that smell that instantly makes you smile and feel better. I love roses. They're like beautiful fragrant guard dogs. Damn! A shark like that would be perfect. He could swim around the yard keeping the kids off and then we could cut off pieces of him and bring them in the house in vases on the table. I gotta go check Amazon for this.

Earnest Prole said...

She's right in that modern tea roses are mostly ghastly, but old-fashioned roses are something else entirely.

exiledonmainstreet said...

I'm evidently lacking in refinement, since I like all roses, even the tea roses I never realized until now are déclassé.

My favorites, though, are those big old cabbage roses.

Wilbur said...

Are we sure this is not a put-on? It's difficult to imagine anyone seriously propounding this.

And no, I haven't heard of the gardener who lost an arm after being pricked by a rose thorn. Maybe Snopes covered it.

D said...

"Would you keep a shark in your front yard?"

Florida Man nods politely.
Australia Man asks: "Would it 'elp with the poisonous spiders?"

BJM said...

License? I don't need no stinkin license.

Wonder what Mendelson's opinion is about the dreaded Purple Dragon carrot, surely much too dangerous for unlicensed rubes to grow.

I agree...pure click bait and/or elite twaddle.

chickelit said...

Here's a question for you gardeners. Early in the spring I severally pruned a dozen different types of roses. They all put forth beautiful new stems and flowers. Is it too late in the season to do the same?

Earnest Prole said...

Early in the spring I severally pruned a dozen different types of roses. They all put forth beautiful new stems and flowers. Is it too late in the season to do the same?

Roses only bloom on new wood (if you know what I mean).

Meade said...

It's never "too late in the season" to remove dead, damaged, or diseased wood. Unless your knife isn't sharp, in which case it is always too late in the season.

Bill said...

I'm reminded of film star and writer Louise Brooks slashing a lover across the face with a bouquet of roses.

Virtually Unknown said...

The guy in The Snows of Kilimanjaro died of a wound from a thorn, but I do think this might be a bit over the top.

Roses only bloom on new wood (if you know what I mean).

No, I don't. Is this a reference to herpes?

Tim Wright said...

Old garden roses are lovely indeed. Damasks, gallicas, etc. one heavy flush of blooms and,they're done, but it's an intoxicating week that they're here and that's why I grow them. Tim

Ralph L said...

I'm evidently lacking in refinement, since I like all roses, even the tea roses I never realized until now are déclassé.
Anything that blooms more than 3-4 weeks a year is deplorable.

Chick, the trick is don't prune anything so late that the new growth gets frozen. In WI, where I hear it's dark for 6 months, that's around July 4 or something. Some plants bloom next spring on old growth, you're supposed to guess which ones.

Earnest Prole said...

Tea roses are the equivalent of bony-assed women: Superficially attractive but ultimately unsatisfying.

Earnest Prole said...

wide old-fashioned roses, on the other hand . . .

Bruce Hayden said...

I feel lucky, when it comes to flowers, and rss in particular. My partner, upon graduating form HS, and not allowed to go to college for another year, went to floral school for much of that year, then used floral design plus modeling, to put herself through college. She has forgotten much more than I know about roses, so, no surprise, in our early days of dating, my attempts at giving her flowers were, rightfully, not fully appreciated. She is a flower snob, and doesn't expect flowers from me anymore as a result, which is a good thing, because I think they are silly. At least cut flowers. Still, she keeps trying to educate me (to no avail). I am supposed to tell the difference between one pink rose and another? How? They are both pink, and pink is pink. From my point of view, you could probably get away with four different variation: red, white, pink, and maybe yellowish or something. Anything else is inefficient and wasteful. She keeps talking about putting in a flower garden. Fine. She can do the work, because I don't do unnecessary yard work. Which is usually the end of it, till next time, because she can't do the work.

Meade said...

I beg your pardon. Bruce Hayden never promised you a rose garden.

FissionChips said...


What a pill.

One of the benefits of living in coastal California is that there are over 3000 different roses currently available that you can grow in your garden including Chinas, Tea, Bourbon, Damscena, Gallicas, Hybrid Perpetual, etc. in addition to Florabunda and hybrid teas.

As a hobby we have grown over a hundred plus different varieties and have about 250 rosebushes in our garden. Most are own root and are on automated drip irrigation.

Any single blossom is far more aesthetically pleasing when she is

ddh said...

The progressive mindset in one article: I do not like roses, so no one should have roses. So let it be written, so shall it be done.

EMyrt said...

23 years ago, when my husband and I laid out our 300 plant rose garden in Oakland, CA, we planned it to avoid all those criticisms (except the thorns--I've had my bout with cellulitis, and if you are not immunocompromised or an idiot about treating infections when you notice them, it's not a big deal with antibiotics). In fact, we chose some particularly thorny shrub roses for security plantings—as nasty as razor wire, yet so much better looking.

We sought out a mix of Austin and other old fashioned roses; chosen for scent, unusual flower forms and colors from cream to red, with multihued ones like Mutabilis, and many lavender and purple varieties. No salmon, no yellow and none of those scentless, thornless hybrid teas. Many shrub roses that look great in the garden, but are not vase specimens.

Although it was not our intent, the public half of our garden, along the front of the house and the sidewalk, has become a magnet for runners, walkers and tourists. The scents have been a big hit, especially because it’s very difficult to pull off in the Bay Area climate. Now, we do have 1/3 acre on a sunny hill, nigh impossible in NYC, and the advantages and disadvantages of a Mediterranean climate.

So, even though I agree with your critique, fuck you, Charlotte, and your laying down the law tone for your smug readers of the New Yorker.