Ode To The Rose

Welcome to Pre-Spring. In this issue’s Musings, editor Nazrene Hanif reflects on the season’s theme of renewal, the power of love and its most-enduring emblem, the rose.

It’s January. The long nights still linger, but in the ever-brighter dawn, there is a sense that something is coming, something new. While many consider this time of year the bleakest, with the weight of our broken resolutions and whispers of Blue Monday; the first few months also bring the promise of a fresh start. Change is in the air, often literally: look up, and you might see migrating birds return home or the planet Venus appear above the horizon, just before sunrise. 

From the planets and moon cycles to each season’s unique flowers and fruits – at the Floristry, we believe everything is interconnected. At the close of winter, the first flowers open. As one year ends, another begins. This philosophy reminds me of the poet T.S. Eliot, who wrote: ‘What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.’

Let me begin again. When I was born, my father chose to name me after his favourite flower: Nazrene, Arabic for wild rose, its white petals a symbol of renewal and everlasting love. As a child, growing up in London, I loved to watch my father tend to his garden, his little patch of earth: in January and February, rose buds of every colour lay dormant, and this was the time to prune, remove leaves, cut back dead wood, then seal the wounds and nourish the soil. I like that the word tend comes from the Old French tendre, meaning to extend or offer. It often felt like he was offering himself to these flowers, knowing that give and take, tenderness is needed to encourage something – or someone – to grow.

The rose is also the flower of Venus, or Aphrodite: one myth describes the goddess appearing out of the sea, growing rose bushes from the foam that fell from her body to the ground; another tells the story of the wounding of her lover, Adonis – the red rose a romantic union of his blood and her tears. The word rose is also thought to be a synonym for Eros – Aphrodite’s son, also known as Amor or Cupid – signifying the beauty and fruitfulness of nature.

Today, this single flower is still the most-recognised symbol of love and romance. On 14 February, is it traditional to gift 12 roses to your Valentine, demonstrating that you think about them throughout the 12 months of the year. Our seasonal bouquets nod to this sentiment, coupling red with blush-pink and orange flowers to symbolise the pursuit and perseverance of passion; while our edit of wild-inspired gifts shows thoughtfulness to the people and the planet we love.

In Wild Hearts: A Hong Kong Love Story, an intense love affair unfolds, the fleeting looks and flirtatious touches, against the fluorescent lights of Hong Kong. We filled a car with flowers – the romantic backdrop to our couple’s first embrace – and travelled through the city at night to the mountains at daybreak. We looked once again for the morning star, Venus, bringer of the dawn, to emulate the feeling of young love: glimpsed, lost, but never forgotten.

‘Emotional struggle is necessary for growth as it is necessary for art,’ says the songwriter Cehryl. It’s a poignant way to look at the season of love. Even the rose can represent pain and adversity, its thorns a reminder that nothing is perfect – or, as we like to say, imperfection is beautiful. The artist and photographer Ziqian Liu shares this belief: in our new interview series, The Dreamers, she talks to The Floristry about embracing her flaws and creating art in harmony with nature.

Remember, this is also a time for self-love. February came from the Latin word februa, meaning ‘to cleanse’; and was named after Februalia, a month-long festival of purification and atonement. From softening your interiors with candles, fresh linens and seasonal flowers, to colour therapy for chakra alignment and growing your own wild ingredients – this season, we explore the simple, natural ways to show yourself some care.

I like to set the mood with music; art encourages me to live more compassionately, to see things differently, and shift my perspective towards acceptance and love. In the words of James Baldwin: ‘The world is held together by the love and the passion of a very few people.’ We hope this issue helps bring you closer to the ones you love and the romance of simply being in this world.