I wish I could say this photo came from my rose garden, but I can’t. This photo came from Peggy Rockefeller’s rose garden. Growing up, our family backyard was laden with rosebushes. A rosebush wasn’t something you drove to to visit–it was something I watered and trimmed and then, when I felt like it, plucked. I kept fresh roses in my bedroom throughout adolescence.
When I lived in London, my roommates thought it was odd that I would waste precious pounds on fresh-cut flowers that would only die in a few days. But I had to have them. When I lived in Greenwich Village 14 years ago, my apartment was on the 16th floor. I had a magnificent view of the Empire State Building–not bad for a 22-year-old earning only a few thousand dollars a year.
Yet I discovered that unlike many New Yorkers, I did not like living in the sky, despite the striking view. I needed to live on the ground, preferably near a corner grocery selling tubs of fresh-cut flowers, or even better, near a rosebush, with its roots clutching the earth the way a child holds her mother’s hand, facing the sun, excited about what the day will bring.
My ideal would be to live in a city brownstone and have a small garden, a homegrown oasis, the way Londoners stuff cosmos and lillies and other flora into every nook and cranny of earth imaginable. Give the English a square inch of dirt, and by God, they will make something grow. For now, I have a deck garden dotted with pots of geraniums (which always make me think of Italy) and carnations. I can’t afford that Manhattan brownstone lifestyle and probably never will so I’m aiming for the classic suburban dream…a house with a yard, a view of my own rose garden perhaps from a kitchen window…my feet firmly on the ground while New Yorkers in glass towers toil above me.