A rose is a rose is a hose !


This was supposed to be a picture of a rose. When I developed it, it turned out to be a picture of a hose. I was shocked. How could I have been so one-eyed, and not seen what was shouting at me in a loud turquoise voice? I only see what I want to see, and eliminate even the obvious, it seems.

So when I went for my walk in the summer evening, I reminded myself to actually look, and not to assume or to expect. I wanted to see what was there, not what I thought was there. Down near the harbour where I usually turn around I always end up by a bougainvillaea sprawling through the trees, and just out its reach, a queen of the night holding her own. Braving bougainvillaea prickles, I can just reach the greenery-yallery sprigs of tiny flowerheads.

Two nights ago I broke one off and carried it back with me, sniffing the glorious fragrance, and ending up sitting on the warm marble bench in the cemetery at the other end of the peninsula, still smelling the sweet blossoms. I did what I’d never thought of doing before, and took it in and put it in a glass in the bed-room. The scent filled the whole room, and whenever I turned over in my sleep, the scent was drifting past.

The next day the tiny pale green flowers closed up, and the sprig sat nondescriptly on the window- sill all day, before bursting into glorious scent in the evening again. So now I plan to keep a permanent supply of these modest blossoms that don’t look big enough to be able to scent a whole room… The scent lasts for three nights I’ve discovered.

Walking back tonight with a fresh sprig of blossom, I passed a big shrub on the road where it dips and there’s a muddy spring.  Before now I’ve smelt its fragrance, but not given it a passing glance. Its reputation as a deadly poison and hallucinogen had somehow got in the way of me actually seeing this innocent plant. Tonight I looked at it, and ended up gently holding one incredibly beautiful flower-head after another, each one slightly different, gazing at their two layers of frilly white petals, and seeing deep inside the long white tube, white stamens pushing their way up to the light. The pendulous buds are so yellow it’s a surprise that the flowers are so white

The slender pale green calyx was smooth and soft and somehow tender to touch and to hold, and ended where the green- veined white trumpet – shaped flower began. Its ugly official name is brugmansia, but its folk name is angels trumpets. Angels trumpets spread their scent so far that long before I get there I can smell them.

Enchanted now with the idea of white scented flowers, I noticed the exquisite waxy looking candle-shaped buds of the king magnolia further down the road, the dark shiny leaves supporting each smooth creamy bud like a candlestick. Only one flower had opened, but it was enough. The scent of just one flower wafted past me.

I walked down the long drive to some friends’ house, knowing they were not there, but that they wouldn’t mind me visiting the frangipani plant flourishing by their veranda. The scent of frangipani takes me back to Singapore when it was still an eastern city and I was a girl, where all the alleys were hung with long bamboo poles suspended from every window on each floor, drying thin cotton tropical clothes in the brilliant un-ending sunshine.

We were staying in a hotel just around the corner from the famous Raffles Hotel, and the entrance was flanked with rows of frangipani trees.  Their fragrance followed us into the hotel courtyard and drifted in through the big open bedroom windows where we slept with no air conditioners, but beneath draped mosquito nets.

And when the velvet tropical night had fallen promptly at six thirty, every night in the darkness I would look down from the bedroom and see small groups of people squatting on the pavement in a circle. They would have tiny flickering lights and little spirit stoves in their midst to cook their dinner, delicious smells rising tantalisingly through the frangipanis, and I would hear their soft chatter and their laughter.

There were no blossoms on the frangipani growing here in New Zealand… wrong time of year perhaps. Back home, there was one white gardenia open.  I savoured the perfume before bringing it inside and putting it in a shallow bowl, floating on the water. So though no angels trumpets, I have queen of the night, gardenia and creamy honeysuckle from the porch scenting the house – even the names are poetry.

I don’t know whether I did what I intended when I began my walk, or whether I saw what was really there, but just by looking – truly looking at the beautiful angels trumpets – unnoticed before –  the walk turned into something else – a successful quest for white scented flowers. And like all successful quests, that was good enough.

And I wonder if this is how life is… we set off in one direction and find that imperceptibly we’ve drifted down other unsuspected paths; and looking back, we see that it was the perfect journey, and our travelling had a purpose, and was not random at all.


Food for Threadbare Gourmets

Friends for dinner before they left after the summer holiday to go back to the city. On a summer evening cold food seemed appropriate. So we had chicken with curry mayonnaise on rice salad. The cooked chicken chopped and mixed into a bowl of good bought mayonnaise, with about a big tablesp of golden syrup and desert sopn of curry powder to taste… I taste until I like it. Stir through enough cream to make it a soft consistency to stick to the chicken.

Cold basmati rice is jollied up with a vinaigrette dressing with salt, plenty of freshly ground black pepper, mustard, and sugar. Add to the rice generous helpings both of peas and sultanas soaked in boiling water, lots of crunchy chopped almonds lightly toasted in a frying pan, and lots of chopped parsley. Nice with a salad and chilled pinot gris .

In deference to our French connections we now have the cheese course before the pudding! This was some of our plums cooked to Nigella’s lovely recipe in red wine, one star anise, two cloves, teasp of cinnamon and a bay leaf, plus honey to taste. We had them with a mix of plain yogurt, whipped cream and runny honey stirred gently together, and a little shortbread biscuit.


Food for thought

That mighty power that sways the tides and works the million miracles of spring is ranged forever on the side of love.

The writer: known only to God .  Seen on an embroidered sampler hanging over a bedroom fireplace in an English cottage





Filed under cookery/recipes, flowers, food, gardens, great days, happiness, life/style, love, perfume, spiritual, Thoughts on writing and life, Uncategorized

73 responses to “A rose is a rose is a hose !

  1. What a delightful fragrant walk you took me on too. I do miss the flowers of home even when they remind you of other countries and other homes. What a glorious area you have to wander through. I do agree that an uncharted wander is often more refreshing that steaming up the path and back again intent on ‘taking the air’, or even god help us ‘fitness’, especially when you are in an ‘aware’ kind of mood, often I go all dreamy when I go for a walk, that is when i trip Over the hoses in my path!! have a lovely afternoon.. c


    • Dearest celi, how lovely to know you’re right here, almost in New Zealand, it seems when you pop in like this! And with all your busyness, I so appreciate your delicious messages… I’m certain you would go all dreamy in your walks through your paths and fields with your adorable companions. you’ve shared such beautiful images with us – not just pics, but the poetry of your words and perceptions…
      Hope the thaw isn’t as painful as the Ordeal, love Valerie


  2. Anonymous

    Once gain I have been transported into a familar
    environment and I was able to enjoy through your poetic descriptions 0f the scent of the flowers and the taste of the food


  3. Your quest to see what was really there was a great success. I’m surprised that the queen-of-the-night’s fragrance lasted for three days. I still remember the first time I smelled it. I was in Mexico with a student group the summer after college graduation. The scent was heavenly.


  4. What a beautifully sensuous post. You carried me along your walk sniffing all the way! I bought a lovely book for Mr S for Christmas called Planting a Moon Garden and is is all about white night scented flowers and silvery leaved plants that will catch the moonlight. I’m looking forward to it all the more after your delicious post.
    I’d have loved to have joined you for that delicious dinner!
    Happy New Year to you and yours 🙂


  5. Valerie, thank you for taking me on a scent walk around your area.
    Now let me show you our communal garden in Utrecht, in the Netherlands, in which Viburnum tinus (Laurestine) blooms. Imagine a winter-garden with a bit of evergreens but predominately bare trees and bushes. Then there is this bare bush with small pink flowers. Small as they are, they surprise you with a lovely and strong scent. This is so amazing because it is winter here and you don’t expect flowers to smell. So why do they? They must be very few insects. Ah! That is it. They smell so wonderfully in order to attract the bravest and cold defying insects. I have smelled at least five times. You think the flowers love those cold, wintry human noses for the sake of some extra pollination?


  6. Eric

    A hose,
    by any other
    would trip
    my feet…



  7. I thought it was a picture of flowers (not just roses) and I had to search for the hose. Perhaps to you, when you looked back, it dominated because to you it was out of place. I think it looks in place among the flowers.

    I know you share my interest in history and it occurs to me that this discussion is relevant to history or art as well. We always approach things from a certain angle and with certain interests and assumptions which influence what we see.

    Actually, I don’t know what this reveals, but I read your headline as “A ROSE IS A ROSE IS A HORSE”.


    • I think you’re so right in your inclusion of art, and history.. and probably what goes on between human beings as well – what one sees or hears, the other perceives or hears quite differently….
      Yes, one would have to wonder about horses !!!


  8. Hello my hallucinogenic Valentina 😀

    What a lovely walk you had, but was it real I ask ?

    When roses become hoses or perhaps toes”es” see noses disposes.
    Wherever thou goes”es” exclaim, “I saw Moses in all sorts of poses !!”
    I supposes !!

    Ralph xox 😀


  9. Am still giggling at the first 2 lines 😀 😀

    Warm Regards, Dear Valerie.


  10. Oh how I miss the frangipani trees; I spent hours playing under them and on them as a child. And I hope I will find that my journey has had a purpose.


  11. This is such a beautiful picture, I couldn’t take my eyes off of it for some time….and I didn’t notice,or hear, the turquoise voice(hose) until you mentioned it….The place is just so inviting, that I imagined myself sitting there listening to the birds, though I can’t see any in the photo, and enjoying the colors….wonderful!

    If U can, plz drop at : http://yourstoryclub.com/short-stories-for-kids/children-short-story-little-goldie/
    (Please delete the 1st comment; somehow it got posted before completing!)


    • Thank you so much for your lovely comment… yes, you would have heard many birds – most of them asking why I’m so late delivering their afternoon tea!.So9 glad you enjoyed the picture…I”ll go to your link as soon as I’ve finished replying…


      • Thank you so much 😀
        Wish you left your comment there in case you like it 🙂


      • I’ve only just got back to blogging – a phone call that took half and hour, and then a dinner party to prepare and now the guests have gone, so I’ve just gone to your link. I found the story really upsetting … I know that goldfish have memories, and probably feelings too, and feel that they get a raw deal a lot of the time. I thought your story was great. I don’t do Facebook , even though my daughter organised it for me… I just can’t get my head around it…. best wishes…


  12. Hmmmm flower scents. I am so homesick for warmer weather. Not just because it’s more convenient but the smells and textures (even freshly cut grass) are just wonderful. Snow, though lovely, does not have the same sensory experience for me.


  13. The idea of going on the detour intrigues me , one has to slow down and watch to find the way. Your reference to the embroidered homily is also special. I think I will transfer those words on to a surface I can enjoy as well.


  14. Certainly a lesson in observation and a voyage of aromatic discovery!
    In these amazing times, if you wanted that particular picture but without the hose, a fairly short time even using the basic Paint programme would render the unwanted feature invisible.


  15. I loved your walk, my mind’s eye seeing and feeling the sights the sounds and the textures. I think (if you hadn’t pointed it out) I would not have seen the hose…it was so much a part of the riot of color in your photo. I was busy looking for a Burgmasia ..thinking the red blossom at the top might be one.



  16. I confess I had to look up the queen of the night flower. How beautiful. It is called Nightblooming Cereus here and is part of the cactus family. Does that describe yours? Whether it is history, gardening, philosophy, or recipes, I always learn something from you, Valarie…mostly to enjoy the paths we take.:)


    • Thank you for your lovely comment Lynne – I will now go and look up queen of the night too… not sure whether it would be the same as your version… this one is a woody plant, not cactusy at all, and thankfullly no prickles ! So glad you enjoyed the post.. you are so generous…


  17. Every one of my senses was engaged. Were you alone? This piece should be read to all who are fighting afflictions. Surely, it would help strengthen their resolve to prevail to join you and savor your sensory bouquet…again.


  18. It’s funny how we see what we want to see – you must have been really surprised to see the hose when you developed the photo!


  19. Thanks for this great post. Your story reminds me of a song equivalent – one from the film Singing in the Rain, where Don and Cosmo take elocution lessons: “Moses supposes his toses are roses, but Moses supposes erroneously!”


  20. Dear Valerie,

    Just to show how observant I am, I didn’t notice the hose in the picture at first. If you hadn’t pointed it out, I’m not sure I would have.
    This is the time of year, in my “fondness” for winter, that I start suffering from “spring fever”. So a respite in the garden with you was welcome. As always your words brought it all to life.

    Kia Ora,



  21. Ahh, the scent of summer brought to wintery Hamburg/ Germany by you dear Valerie…! 🙂

    Actually, I believe that is exactly how life is. When we really look what is there without expectations, we are taking one step at a time. The first step is set into one direction, yet each step can lead into a different one.

    I have missed reading your beautiful writings.

    Thank you for taking us on this beautiful walk and Happy New Year!

    Much love,


    • Dear Steffi, so good to hear from you… have you had a lovely break, honeymoon???
      Yes, Hamburg would be cold now…. hope you’re keeping warm…
      So glad you enjoyed the post, and a very special happy new year to you in your new life, LOve Valerie


      • My dear Valerie, thank you!
        Our honeymoon in Denmark was a bit stormy – like in the Wizard of Oz – yet, very romantic. And the Christmas break was replenishing after all the “to-do”.
        I hope you are having a good year, so far! May 2014 take you on many more joyful roads to discover. I am looking forward to read about some of the adventures, here. 🙂
        Much love


  22. Not random at all. You took me on a sensory excursion, and reminded me of a little encounter in my own garden the other day, speaking of not seeing what is under one’s nose! I was just outside, watering absentmindedly and became aware of a little birdie commotion. I couldn’t work out the source of all the fuss, until I realised the fledglings were trying to leave what was evidently a nest that had been made in my unpruned daisy bush! All these weeks I’ve been hearing the New Holland Honeyeaters outside, and had no idea there was a nest. I hope they come back… 🙂


  23. Amy

    Enjoyed walking with you, Valerie! What a beautiful garden. It looks like you are getting more rain than last year.


  24. An ode to the power of paying attention to the small things – which are actually the big things!


  25. I recently read a biography of Georgia O’Keeffe. This post exemplifies her creative endeavours.

    “When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else.” Georgia O’Keeffe

    You gave that moment to me….
    Thank you!!


  26. rebecca, what a simply beautiful quote from Georgia O’Keeffe. And thank you for your gift to me !


  27. A fragrant filled post, walk and room – how delightful. I plan to buy a scented jasmine for the garden, I had one in London and it filled the night air – I love it! But would love your bougainvillaea too!


    • Thank you Claire, glad you enjoyed it… I love star jasmine too, I have it growing on walls all round the house, and have also got it in two big pot and topiary it into a bush…I used it as ground cover in another house…love playing with possibilities !


  28. Juliet

    Ah, the fragrance of white scented flowers. I’ve just read your coffee post, which is full of flavour, and now this one, full of fragrance. I wore frangipani flowers in my hair when I was married at 20 and can still remember the sweet scent.


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