A Rose by Any Other Name…

Yesterday I had a picnic with the girls in the rose garden at the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens.

Under a tree in the rose garden on a quiet Wednesday afternoon. It was the perfect picnic spot.

I’ve been to the rose garden many times and I wrote a post about it once, a million years ago. I hadn’t planned to blog about yesterday’s outing. But it was such an enjoyable experience that I decided it was blog-worthy. Especially because, for the first time ever, I got some decent photos of the amazing roses there.

Dark pink rose, about to open.

Thanks to my friend Nina for spotting this, the only purple rose in the entire garden. That lady bug crawled into the frame at exactly the right moment.

Perfect red rose.

Same shot as above, cropped.

We arrived mid-morning , spread our blankets, and chowed on croissants, cheese, hot cross buns, Cadbury Whispers (Malted Milk Balls to the Americans among you, Maltesers to the Brits), and — in a feeble attempt to include one healthy option — fruit.  It stayed perfectly cool in the shade as the sun heated up. We were among the only visitors in the garden. As the afternoon wore on, it became harder and harder to leave.

My view for much of the afternoon.

When I first bought my DSLR camera, the rose garden was one of the first places I went to try it out. I quickly discovered that photographing roses is harder than I thought. The shapes and colors never seemed to translate from real life into my photos.

But yesterday, strolling around the garden in the blazing midday sun, I got what I’ve been looking for.

Simple white rose, tinged with pink.

Red, orange, yellow.

My favorite.

Rose photos aside, I wanted to blog about yesterday because it represents the way I’ve been feeling lately. Over the last week or two, I’ve started to feel alive again. I can have a picnic with my friends, relax, and enjoy myself, without just going through the motions and feeling like I’m faking it. I can go an hour or two, maybe even several hours, without being ambushed by crushing sadness. I can bring up Jon in a conversation and not worry that I’ll begin to cry without warning. I can envision a time in the future when I might feel happy again.

It’s a good feeling. I’m not ready to feel happy yet. But I’m no longer hollow inside. It’s good to feel that happiness is possible. A few weeks ago, I wasn’t sure that it was.

Thanks to all my Jozi friends for coaxing me back to life, bit by bit. You don’t even realize you’re doing it, but you are.

A happy sign in the rose garden.

The Jozi Botanical Gardens are perfect for picnicking. For those of you who have the luxury of doing so, I recommend going on a weekday when it’s quiet and peaceful. Just be aware that if you go before noon, the sprinklers will be on in the rose garden and you might struggle to find a dry place to sit. 

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  • Reply catherine March 15, 2012 at 11:04 am

    time does heal, but slowly and it is important not to rush it….thanks for the lovely photos,

    • Reply 2summers March 15, 2012 at 11:26 am

      Thanks for the lovely comment!

  • Reply Kathryn McCullough March 15, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Gosh, Heather, these photos are gorgeous. My favorite is the one in orange, yelllow and red. Looks like a great place to picnic.

    • Reply 2summers March 15, 2012 at 12:01 pm

      Thanks Kathy, I’m glad you like them. It’s unbelievable how many different colors of roses there are in that garden. And the peak season is already passed!

  • Reply landofnams March 15, 2012 at 11:59 am

    H, so glad to hear you are turning a corner…I believe in you! and lovely pics, xx

    • Reply 2summers March 15, 2012 at 12:11 pm

      Thanks N. See you soon!

  • Reply MartinaInJozi March 15, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    You are like a sneaky paparazzi – we didn’t know you took that photo 🙂

    • Reply 2summers March 15, 2012 at 1:31 pm

      Yes, I’m sneaky like that!

  • Reply Melinda Swift March 15, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    Aaaahhhhh, Jo’burg has so many beautiful places that bring calm, peace and just the simple joy of feeling the sun and breeze on your skin…. and to do it with girlfriends just makes it one of those things that make a life well worth living. Thanks for sharing last night. It was powerful, sad, happy and poignant. And so we go on giving thanks for the great gift of life, all those who we meet along the way, all the bumps we manage to fly or crawl over, and of course the sweet vision of a beautiful sunny rose. As always, much love x

    • Reply 2summers March 15, 2012 at 1:30 pm

      Aw, thanks Melinda. As we say in the United States, “Right back at ya”.

  • Reply Mr Bunny Chow March 15, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    Roses are where I started with black and white photography, they really seem to lend themselves to it and I don’t use any post software than google’s free picasa or occasionally the equally free Picnik.

    lovely shots and glad to hear you’re reclaiming your life, I once heard someone say that the pain of a loss is like having an apple in a tin can, at first the tin is really tight and small and although the apple never shrinks the tin grows over time and there is more and more space for the apple to move within it.

    I hope those words help



    • Reply 2summers March 15, 2012 at 6:24 pm

      Thanks Mr. Bunny Chow. That’s a nice analogy.

  • Reply thirdeyemom March 15, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Heather, what amazing photos!!!! Wow the roses literally jump off the page. Incredible. I am so glad that you are starting to feel better. I cannot imagine what it has been like for you and all the suffering you have been through. Wishing you continual joy!

    • Reply 2summers March 15, 2012 at 6:25 pm

      Thanks Nicole! Much appreciated.

      • Reply thirdeyemom March 15, 2012 at 10:09 pm

        Those roses are truly spectacular! Wow, the photos are unreal.

  • Reply Spiral Dreamer (Francis) March 15, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    I love roses and your posts. All so full of life and colors even when the facts were very sad.

    • Reply 2summers March 15, 2012 at 8:55 pm

      Thanks Francis. I’m fortunate to live in a very colorful place, and it inspires me to write colorfully 🙂

  • Reply eremophila March 16, 2012 at 1:00 am


  • Reply Yashik March 16, 2012 at 7:36 am

    Hi Heather,

    Another wonderful post! I could almost smell the roses!

    We all, in our small way, have gone on this journey with you, and feel incredible at how beautifully your heart has been doing.

    • Reply 2summers March 16, 2012 at 2:44 pm

      Thanks Yashik. The roses smelled really wonderful, by the way. I forgot to mention that.

  • Reply Lilly Loompa March 16, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    Really amazing photos Heather! Since January I have been trying to get a hiking group together. Eventually last Saturday I managed to get a few girlfriends together (Johannesburg people are so busy) and we decided to take it easy and walk through the Johannesburg botanical gardens. Your pictures made me smile as it reminded me of all our laughs as we meandered through the botany. People on canoes, joggers, walkers, dogs and children greeted us along the way. Really great memories! Our next hike (in April) will be an urban one through the city of JHB. One of my friends’ uncle is a historian and will educate us as we walk through the city…really looking forward to that!

    • Reply 2summers March 17, 2012 at 11:47 am

      Lilly, that sounds awesome. Walking the CBD will make a nice contrast to the Botanical Gardens.

  • Reply Tara April 12, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    Catching up with these beautiful posts of yours H. You are doing great by keeping the supporting and cheering company of your friends and these lovely roses.. admiring you….

    • Reply 2summers April 12, 2012 at 7:28 pm

      Thanks Tara! Nice to see you here again. I hope you’re doing well.

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