Square In September: Rosebuds

Pink rose within a ring of rosebuds
Rosa ‘Wisley 2008’

I do try to keep my promises, but some are harder than others. If I promised not to eat smoked salmon, for example, that would seem easy. Smoked salmon is pretty much the worst food you could offer me. There may well be things I like less, but I have not so far been invited to partake of them. [Though dim memories of my friend Paul inducing me to eat wasabi peas do float to mind, and feeling the urge to roll around, pawing my face afterwards, like a dog might if it tried something it didn’t like. He meant it as a kindness.] 

The problem with swearing off smoked salmon is that every now and again, someone presents it to you with the air of it being a treat and it is rude and hurtful to say ‘Yuk – no thanks!’ That’s what it all comes down to – making a promise is one thing, keeping it can be quite another.

Whether or not it was rash of me to promise Oddment I’d share a whole post of pictures of rosebuds remains to be seen. She likes the buds best, so I felt bad as I cropped two of them off last week’s picture, to get it square for Becky. It has taken a while, but today, despite Oddment concluding I am part plant on Friday, I’m going to keep my promise. (I’m hoping she was referring to my roots.)

Collecting bud pictures hasn’t been easy. Here are some of the issues:

Roses with buds pointing in different directions
Rosa ‘Harlow Carr’

I tend to be most attracted to the blooms. Close attention to the buds reveals they stick out all over, pointing in every direction at once, making it difficult to focus without blurring at least one of the little blighters… sorry, Oddment, I meant to say little darlings.

There are millions of classic shots of solitary hybrid tea rosebuds and I did not think Oddment was looking for more of the same from me.

Rose bud looks insignificant next to gladioli flower

The trouble is, in my hands, even a crumpled gladiolus can upstage a rosebud. I mean, if you were going to sit next to one of these flowers all night at a dinner party, which one would you choose?

Classic pink rose bud with a long stem
Rosa ‘Belinda’s Dream’

I did manage this relatively classic shot of Rosa ‘Belinda’s Dream’, but that variety has such an amazingly beautiful, coiffured flower, I can’t help feeling it might blush to be represented by its bud. It must be the plant version of wearing your youthful flares in a 2018 social media cover shot.

Slender pink rose bud

And I captured this long, slender bud – perhaps an Alba, I forget; something without many petals, certainly, but would you say it has character? Does it pass the dinner party test (i.e. this, or the gladiolus)?

Cluster of rosebuds around a pink rose

Shrub roses’ buds have other issues too. Strength in numbers, for example. If shrub rosebuds have any chance of photobombing the main bloom, they’ll take it. I can’t work out if this is a decent picture of buds or a poor picture of a rose.

One fully open rose in a garden of foliage
Rosa ‘Anne Boleyn’

The fact is, unless you catch the buds very early in the season, there’s always at least one rose mucking up the rosebuds shot. You can hardly snip the bloom off, can you?, especially in someone else’s garden. So do me a favour – please ignore any rose blooms you see in this post.

Large rosette style roses with small buds
Rosa ‘Gertrude Jekyll’

That one was just for practice. Score a point for every full rose you ignored. It’s Gertie again, this time with her buds. Here’s last week’s picture, if you missed it.

Which leads me to another issue: how do we decide when a rosebud ceases to become a bud? Does a bud have to have closed sepals (green bits) to count? If not, where do we draw the line? When you have a passion for fuller, rosette style roses, as I do, you tend to permit buds more latitude.

Rose buds at various stages of opening

To use another northern term, most of these cut roses strike me as nobbut buds, at different stages. Suppliers of luxury cut roses like these in the picture above offer them for sale at what they call the ‘open bud stage’ – that way, they’re more likely to open out fully when they reach their fleeting forever home. It’s a balancing act. Too shut and they might wither as buds; too open and their petals may be damaged in transit and their vase life will be shorter.

Some buds don’t feel obliged to blend in with the colour scheme set by their elders, but then glowing orange-red buds are a good thing… aren’t they?

Palest pink flowers with pure pink buds

I find these pink buds really sweet on a white, or almost white, cemetery shrub rose and love the featheriness of their greenery. Note I cut the ‘main’ bloom in half when cropping to make the picture square and prevent the buds from being upstaged. And, yes, it did feel a bit rash. Liberating, but rash.

Striped rose with buds
Rosa Mundi

I left these shy and unassuming buds to take their chance. If you managed to ignore Rosa Mundi’s striped blooms, award yourself bonus points: two per bloom because of their novelty value.

Purple rose with mossy greenery on the buds
Rosa ‘William Lobb’

Furry buds are my personal favourites. Rosa ‘William Lobb’ is a fragrant, thorny, once flowering Old Rose known as a moss type, because the buds seem to be covered in moss. Either that or it’s got an alarmingly bad infestation of greenflies.

I’m aware that the shots I’ve shared so far might not have sufficiently fulfilled my promise, but surely this one does?

Pale pink flower with a slender green bud

No need to ignore the rose in this one – it has become a kind of background wallpaper for the bud, a prefiguring of what’s to come.

Over and out! (Mic drop)


OK – we all know I’m not cool enough to get away with a mic drop, or to stalk off stage with the proper degree of aplomb. With my head in one hand for even thinking of it, I’m going to link to Oddment (I ought perhaps to call her Maureen) with thanks for the inspiration, and to Becky as the pink square ones also fulfil my promise to share a rose every Sunday in September for her challenge. This is the closest I’ve come to meeting the full brief as the roses look in the pink and I am hoping at least one reader will be tickled pink by at least one bud. Fingers crossed!

One more week to go and I’m thinking I might do pink flowers instead of roses next week. Would that be breaking my promise?

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