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The Beauty of a Rose: What Defines Beauty?

Updated on September 4, 2014
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Finding beauty in all life's stages

No doubt about it. There is beauty all around us especially in nature. Who can resist the beauty of flowers in bloom, butterflies at rest, or a bird spreading it's wings.

According to Confucius, "Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it". We walk around with blinders not realize the amazing things that are all around us.

Sometimes we find beauty where we least expect it. As we look at a flower, we realize that the stem and leaves are incredibly made. Their shapes and colors exemplify perfection. The closer we look we see how amazing nature really is.

While we mostly focus on the loveliness of flowers as they open, there is beauty as a flower withers and dies. As a flower buds, blooms, turns brown, and the petals fall off, there is something remarkable to see in every stage. Let's look at my rose bush to see if we can find beauty in unexpected places.

A continuous circle

Do you ever stop to thinking about the blossoms ready to bloom or the petals falling off a spent flower? That is, beyond what needs to be done in the garden to nurture it or to clean it up? If I was a gardener and had to clean up the mess, I might not appreciate the leftovers all that much.

I think both these photos have an aesthetic quality. The buds ready to burst open are a promise waiting to unfold. The flower petals withering and falling off tell us that the cycle has ended. Though, I would not blame you if you thought it looked a little like the flower was spitting up.

They both reflect a different part of the life cycle. Each reminding us that life begins, it grows, it ends, but then it is reborn. It is everlasting.

Bringing nature's beauty indoors

Bormioli Rocco Vinciana Flower Vase, Gift Boxed (Small)
Bormioli Rocco Vinciana Flower Vase, Gift Boxed (Small)

Spread some of that nature around. Bring it inside so you can enjoy it even more.

This beautiful 9 inch vase is made in Italy by Bormioli Rocco. Base is 4.5 x 2.5 inches.

 

Defining Ugly

Are beautiful and ugly absolute terms?

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There is something amazing in all stages of life

I found this rose in early summer. These are normally white, yet you can see a little pink coloring the petals. It seems a perfect display of nature's spontaneity. Though more likely, there has been a change in the soil that has caused the pinkish hue. I like to think the flower was blushing. Maybe it doesn't like having it's photo taken.

In a few days, the petals will begin to open. Then, they will sag and fall off. Some might think each of those stages is a sad reminder of how fleeting life is. But, aren't each of these stages magnificent in their own way?

This is a reminder from Mother Nature. As this rose blooms and dies, another will bud. You will have to kill the entire plant to stop this process.


Blooms are made up three parts:  the pistil, the petals, and the stamen
Blooms are made up three parts: the pistil, the petals, and the stamen | Source

A story from Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde's story "The Nightingale and the Rose" has the perfect description of what a rose bush goes through. The Nightingale is trying to find a red rose for a student who is in love. He happens upon a rose tree and gets this response...


"My roses are red
as red as the feet of the dove,
and redder than the great fans of coral
that wave and wave in the ocean-cavern."

In the first passage, we see the beauty of the rose. It's rich in color and full of life.


"But the winter has chilled my veins,
and the frost has nipped my buds,
and the storm has broken my branches,
and I shall have no roses at all this year."

In this second verse, the cold months have set in. Our poor bush is frost bitten and broken. The Nightingale will find no more blossoms this time of year.

Source: This passage was excepted from the story "The Nightingale and the Rose" by Oscar Wilde. The complete text of the story can be found at the Literature Collection. The book "The Nightingale and the Rose" is in the public domain according to the Literature Collection.

The rose hip is what's left over when it's done.  It is the fruit of the rose plant and contains the seeds.
The rose hip is what's left over when it's done. It is the fruit of the rose plant and contains the seeds.

Some facts about roses

  • Roses are perennial flowers. This means its life span lasts more than a couple of years.
  • Plant your rose bushes in the winter.
  • Roses love sunshine, so plant them in a spot that gets lots of sun.
  • Roses begin blooming in spring.
  • The first hybrid tea rose was developed in 1867 in France.
  • A rose bush will bloom many times between Spring and Summer.
  • Those round bulbs you find on rose bushes are called Rose Hips. They contain the seeds.

Time lapse video of a red roses opening

See things from a different perspective

I like to see things from different angles. While most people focus on the bloom, I want to see what the flower looks like from behind or above. There is something interesting to see no matter where you stand.

This bloom has just about had it. You can see that the petals are spread out and starting to curl. It has seen better days.

Yet, it it is lovely to look at. Take a nice picture, too. If there was no stem, you might think this was the front of a flower with a pink center.

Notice the sepals are pointing backward. Sepals are what they call the green petals on the back of the rose. I wonder how long it takes them before they make a star shape? Or, maybe only special ones become stars.

The sepals are the stems on the back of the bloom
The sepals are the stems on the back of the bloom | Source

I have two black thumbs

Some people have a gift for gardening. They can take the scrappiest plant, nurture it with water and sunshine, and it grows into a healthy shrub.

Not me. I have killed cactus.

I have many talents. Growing plants is not one of them. I take the healthiest plant. I nurture it. I give it too much or not enough of what it needs. It turns black and keels over.

I am glad there are people out there with green thumbs. Many of their gardens are works of art. I wonder if they know how much those of us who can't grow weeds enjoy seeing what they have planted?

Pamper yourself

Benchmark Bouquets Dozen Red Roses, With Vase
Benchmark Bouquets Dozen Red Roses, With Vase

It's the middle of winter and not a flower in sight. Why not treat yourself to a beautiful fresh-cut bouquet? 12 long stem roses with vase delivered right to your door. You deserve it. You know you do.

 
Source
Source

Not all stars are in the sky

One day when I was walking around the yard taking in the warmth of a summer's day, I was looking at the rose bush over by our back fence. I noticed this fascinating shape on the stems. The petals had fallen off a couple of days earlier. What was left was this wonderful star shaped sepal. Isn't it amazing?

Even though the rose petals were gone, there was something marvelous about this perfectly shaped star sitting among the leaves. It's funny as I'd never noticed these before. I got my camera and took several photos to add to my collection.

Nature always finds ways to surprise me. This time it wasn't the beauty of a rose, but what was leftover after the rose was gone.

This one didn't make it

Sometimes nature doesn't happen. This rose bud was all set to bloom, but something happened along the way. Or, rather, something didn't happen along the way.

The culprit is most likely insects. It might have been some tiny critter or the cucumber beetles that love to hang out inside the folds of the petals.

While its companions turned into beautiful flowers, this one deteriorated on the stem. Still, I can't help but see it as something worth noting. Although this one won't bloom, it is still interesting to see. It is as interesting in death as it is in life.

Life doesn't happen all the time
Life doesn't happen all the time | Source

Sing a song of roses

Which song do you prefer?

See results

Many have sung their praises

Song writers have often used the rose to symbolize love or to symbolize the perfection in a person—usually a woman. Just do a Google search and you'll find many songs written with this theme.

Neil Young wrote the song "Love is a Rose" in 1974 that was famously covered by Linda Ronstadt. It compares love to roses, growing on a vine, thorns and all. Even hard rockers, Poison, contributed to this theme. And, we all know about the Yellow Rose of Texas.

Why do roses inspire so many in this way?

What is it about roses that makes people so reflective?

The penducle is the part of the stem that attaches to the flower
The penducle is the part of the stem that attaches to the flower | Source

Georges Eliot's poetic praise

George Eliot's “Roses”

The beauty of roses seems to have captured our imagination. Poets and story tellers of all sorts have tried to capture that spirit in words and verse.

This is George Eliot's poem simply called "Roses".

“You love the roses - so do I. I wish

The sky would rain down roses, as they rain

From off the shaken bush. Why will it not?

Then all the valley would be pink and white

And soft to tread on. They would fall as light

As feathers, smelling sweet; and it would be

Like sleeping and like waking, all at once! “

Eliot reveres the beauty of this flower. She wants the world to be covered in them. She sees delight in a rose colored world covered in the fragrance and the hues.

Source: This poem was written by George Eliot and can be found at Wikisource. This poem is in the public domain as it was published before 1 January 1923.

A Definitive Guide

Roses: Placing Roses, Planting & Care, The Best Varieties
Roses: Placing Roses, Planting & Care, The Best Varieties

Sunset knows how to make your garden grow. This guide tells you everything you need to know about growing roses.

 

They even make neat shadows


One day I was working on an online photograpy challenge for a group I belong to. The theme was shadows.

I'm not one to pass up a clever shot since I find them so rarely and my camera is fairly simplistic.

The sunshine was hitting the yard at the right angle. The rose bush provided me with exactly what I needed. Even in shadow they are amazing.

A shadow was never so lovely

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What did we learn today?


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Can beauty be defined?

I enjoy viewing nature through a camera lens. It allows me to see the beauty in things that many times I didn't see the first time around.

Sometimes my idea of what is beautiful is different than other people's view. I believe that red flower and the brown leaves all leave behind their own special beauty. Nature hits me that way.

Is there only one definition of beauty, one set of aesthetics we must all adhere to? Can beauty be found in what is left behind after a rose dies? Or, is it only in that most treasured part, the youthful bloom?

I believe in the old adage that beauty in in the eyes of the beholder. That which one person cuts away and tosses into the compost heap another admires. We both may stand in front of a painting with different reactions. You may be enthralled and I may turn my nose up. We all have our own interpretation of beauty.

It's very difficult to look at Mother Nature's work and not see how perfect it all is. Take a moment, step outside the boundaries of definitions, and appreciate every part of that rose plant and the world around you. You can't help but realize how beautiful and incredible it all is!

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© 2014 Melody Lassalle

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    • MelRootsNWrites profile image
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      Melody Lassalle 2 years ago from California

      Catherine, thank you for your comments! Yes, it is a metaphor for life. And, that cycle continues as the old roses die off, there is always a new one waiting in the wings to blossom.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      You certainly id look at roses from every angle. A rose is a great metaphor for life as it slowly blooms and then slowly fades. Which reminds me, I absolutely must tend my rose bushes this week.

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image
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      Melody Lassalle 2 years ago from California

      Thank you for your kind words, suzettenaples! I like seeing things from different perspectives as you can see. The flower is beautiful, of course. But, all the parts also have their own beauty.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 2 years ago from Taos, NM

      I think roses are one of the most beautiful of flowers. This is so interesting and beautiful because you show us the rose from all angles - a 360 degree look at the rose. I never stopped to look at the stem the sepal etc. You are right about nature constructing a flower so perfectly. You have made me see and think of roses in a whole new light. Voted up+ and shared.

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 2 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Love all your images and your article made me miss our old house we sold just last summer. There, we have plentiful of beautiful perennials including roses and the neighbors admire them. Well, we all do. I also have some photos of them posted in one of my hubs obviously titled, "The Rose". Now, in the new place we're yet to do our backyard and we'll surely be planting more roses in the future.

      Beautiful hub! Lovely time lapse video of a red roses opening. Voted up and sharing.

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image
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      Melody Lassalle 2 years ago from California

      Thank you for the kind words, MsDora! We can all use taking a moment away from our day to recognize the beauty around us.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Mel, welcome to HubPages! You've started with some great titles.

      Thanks for the inspiration to look again at the rose and really admire it. You shared many lovely thoughts here. I'm all for taking time to appreciate the beauty all around us. See you around!

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image
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      Melody Lassalle 3 years ago from California

      Thank you so much, smine27! I am glad that this touched you in a positive way.

    • smine27 profile image

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Loved how poetic this article was. I could actually feel myself relaxing and becoming more peaceful as I progressed through this. Thank you for making my day.

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image
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      Melody Lassalle 3 years ago from California

      Well said, SheGetsCreative! Roses do seem to have a quality of perfection about them. Even when they are a bit wilted they can seem perfectly shaped.

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 3 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Lovely articles. Roses have, and most likely always will be one of those gifts from nature that urge us to contemplate beauty. It's that "golden ratio" quality I think that makes them so appealing.

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image
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      Melody Lassalle 3 years ago from California

      Thank you, Elsie! We all could use slowing down now and then :) When you think about it the seeds, the plants, the flowers, and even the fruit (for those that produce it), it is really an amazing process.

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image
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      Melody Lassalle 3 years ago from California

      Thank you for the kind words, Jodah! What you said about beauty is very true. Each individual has their own measuring stick. But, even then, sometimes nature sort of reaches out and grabs us. Something we thought was mundane turns out to be really amazing when we think about it.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 3 years ago from New Zealand

      Enjoyed this article about roses. Yes roses are beautiful, I haven't stopped to think about how it looks at the end of flowering, but you sure made me think about it. Thanks for slowing me down for a minute and allowing me to see the beauty from beginning to the end of a blooming rose.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      What a wonderful perspective, there is beauty at all stages of life and what is ugly to one may be beautiful to another. Great poetry, photos and video. Voted up.

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image
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      Melody Lassalle 3 years ago from California

      Thank you teaches12345! That is quite a few rose bushes. We don't have as many, but we have 5 varieties in the yard. I'm intrigued by how different each blossom is. I didn't know that beyond color, that roses varied so much.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      What a lovely way to share thoughts on life and beauty. At one time, we had over 35 rose bushes in our yard and the scent was sweet. You certainly have some pretty roses.

    • annieangel1 profile image

      Ann 3 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      "Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it" - I love that sentiment - thanks, I enjoyed this very much.

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image
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      Melody Lassalle 3 years ago from California

      Linda, it's so very true. Nature gives us so much, yet sometimes we don't see what it offers unless it's right smack in our face. Too many times people are rushing about their lives or too busy to really notice the simple things.

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image
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      Melody Lassalle 3 years ago from California

      Thank you Billybuc! I think the photos helped push this one along.

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 3 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      The beauty of a rose is obvious to most, yet many people miss it entirely because they don't take the time to appreciate the wonder of nature around us. Thanks for these many observations about one of life's most beautiful sights.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      An article filled with metaphors. I love it. Only a true writer could see that much in a flower. Well done.