FlowerMuse: The Rosebud Garden (Manchester)

“Rosebud” the dying words of Citizen Kane, have been interpreted in many ways. But Orson Welles was clear; the word stood for his mother’s love, a love this complicated, complex man, never lost.

(It was the trade name of a the little sledge Kane was playing on, the day he was taken away from his home and his mother. In his subconscious it represented simplicity, comfort, and home.)

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Flowers of Remembrance, Manchester

And in this week of terror and terrible grief (personal and collective) we may find some consolation to think of those killed and injured like Kane’s ‘rosebud’; cherished and adored.

The rosebud, simply the bud of a rose (cut before it blooms).

Long associated with a pretty girl. Youth and beauty and love.

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Young Girl With Roses (1911)  Alma Tadema Lawrence

Today we may feel anguished and helpless and very sad.  But we should also feel angry; 22 innocent lives have been cut needlessly short by a quasi-religious/political battle. And a bomb designed for maximum impact, a statement against Western values in general and, more specifically, youthful and female freedoms.

“This was an attack on the young: girls with kitten and bunny ears, braces and glasses, boys wearing dungarees, daughters with their matching mums or proud dads at their first gigs. More than 20,000 of Ariana Grande’s fans were packed into the Manchester Arena, waving glow sticks and pink balloons when the bomb went off. The gut-wrenching pictures of those who have died, are missing or have finally been found, show happy young people, relaxed and at ease.” Alice Thomson (The Times)

For those who have lost loved ones, for those who were injured, for those who were there and scared for their lives, this week will never be forgotten. For those of us who’ve observed the horror on, and quietly wept by, our tv screens, this week will live long in the memory. My 9 year-old daughter knows every detail; about the bomber, about those who helped in the aftermath, about the missing and the dead.

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Amongst them typical teenage girls, like 15-year-old Megan Hurley (above) from Halewood.  Neighbours and friends spoke of her as “a lovely, quiet, sensitive person, who absolutely loved her music.”

They said she was also an animal lover, and kept rabbits.

All 22 names of the deceased have now been released. And the remembering and consoling has begun. Leaders, of many kinds, have made speeches, poems have been read, respect has been shown.

Buildings have been lit up in solidarity, all around the world. From the tallest building on earth, The Burj Khalifa, in Dubai to the Hong Kong HSBC building. And across Britain, Wembley Stadium, Sunderland’s Penshaw Monument, Marischal College in Aberdeen and Belfast City Hall.

Whilst the Empire State Building in New York and the Eiffel Tower in Paris went dark as a mark of mourning.

Manchester United players held a minute’s silence. On Tuesday, teams in the United States and Canada held moments of silence before their fixtures and Yankee Stadium played God Save the Queen before a game.

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Source: BBC

Vigils have been held in our larger cities;  London, Glasgow, Birmingham, Belfast, Coventry, Liverpool, Sheffield, Newcastle, Bolton, Swindon, Leeds and, in local communities, like Tarleton in Lancashire, attended by the mother of victim Georgina Callander. Places of worship have held remembrance services. And books of remembrance opened in town halls.

Yesterday broadcasters, workplaces and schools, around the country, held a minute’s silence at 11am.  And the Queen visited the injured in Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.

Indeed support is being offered in all kinds of ways; from raising funds (THE M.E.N. appeal for the victims of the Manchester bomb atrocity and their families topped a £1 million within 24 hours) to consoling comments on social media.

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And from rockstars; “With respect to the awful s*** that happened the other night in Manchester the best response we can make to the bulls*** and the people who want to hate and destroy is to give them love and joy and rock and roll.” (Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden) to popstars; “Our job as artists is to spread joy and peace and love and most importantly to bring people together through the power of music,” (Celine Dion).

Candles have been lit.  Balloons released. Bouquets of flowers laid.

Simple things, gentle gestures, salvos to soothe the fear that surrounds us.

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And in our homes and gardens we can display rosebuds to remember these tender lives torn by terror bombs. One of our oldest flowers, roses have a long, colourful history; symbols of love, beauty, war, and politics.

And interestingly an early harbinger of trade and cultural understanding; firstly by the ancient Romans, Greeks and Phoenicians as they traveled through the Mediterranean and Middle East.  Then later, by the eighteenth century rose-traders who opened up routes to China, India and the Americas.

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Today there are over 30,000 varieties of roses; but it’s in the colours of this huge variety that we can find meaning and symbolism; Lavender/Purple for grace, gentility, elegance and refinement. The rose of sweet thoughts, enchantment, opulence or majesty. White roses with red edges mean unity. Deep pink; appreciation or gratitude. Light pink say you understand, you’re sympathetic, you’re sorry.

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No doubt many cups of British tea are being drink this week.  We could also try Rosebud tea, an infusion of rosebuds and rose petals from China, to soothe nerves, stabilize emotions and balance the mind.

But perhaps most importantly we must hug our loved ones tight, our time together is always short;


Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.

Robert Herrick (1648)




Featured image: The Rosebud Garden of Girls, Julia Margaret Cameron (1868)


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