One Beautiful Thing

George Burns is a lovely, striped rose my sister bought for me a decade ago during one of her visits to Nevada. At the time, she wanted one for herself as well. That is, until the owner of the local nursery said the bush wouldn’t produce the same colors in Oregon.

This past season, George Burns was among the first of my rose bushes to recover from a late freeze and produce a bloom. I almost missed it since the bud formed in a sheltered niche among some low, leafy canes. I spotted it on the 7th of June just after it burst.

To my surprise, the flower was not the splash of red and white I’ve come to expect from this bush. It was red and yellow – the colors the nursery owner predicted for Oregon growers.

It didn’t take long to figure out the reason. It was the rain – lots of it – that came to the high desert over the winter and early spring. Mother Nature changed the pigment of the petals much like an artist adjusts the pigment of watercolors by adding more paint or more water to the canvas.

I don’t presume to understand the science of how a flower reacts to moisture in such a stunning way. All I know is that it clearly does. When I looked at the same blossom after 12 days of clear skies, with only our drip system sustaining the bush, the yellow had given way to almost pure white.

Whether one prefers red paired with yellow or paired with white on a George Burns bush is of little consequence in this story. Rather, it is the simple understanding that what any living thing receives in the way of sustenance will surely color its existence.

Knowing this puts a profound burden on we humans, don’t you think?

If we understand that what we consume plays a big role in determining our health, doesn’t it follow that we should choose what we eat and drink carefully? If we understand that words and deeds make a difference in how we feel and whether we thrive, doesn’t it follow that we should be kind to ourselves and, likewise, speak and act with kindness toward others?

Yet, too often we don’t behave in a way that reflects this understanding. We don’t treat ourselves or those around us with the care we should. The upshot is that we don’t live the best life we can, and we miss opportunities to lift others up so they have a better chance of living theirs.

It’s not a failure per se. It’s human nature – especially when a thousand random things in a fast-paced, complex world affect our actions and reactions.

Still, wouldn’t it be lovely if we could slow down, if only for a little while each day, to make sure we do at least one beautiful thing for ourselves and one beautiful thing for someone else?

Like the colors of my George Burns rose, the result could be stunning.



10 thoughts on “One Beautiful Thing

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful flower photographs. I really miss our George Burns roses. Seems last summer or fall, they never really sprouted up. The leaves where there and the thorns were there but no flowers. I love them because they so resemble carnations. Funny, I had never heard of these flowers and I was in Home Depot one day and there was this one plant that was ‘out of place’ . Seems someone meant to purchase it and then changed the mind and left it right there, not far from the cash register. This was my prize. Anyways, Merry Christmas and peace to you.


    1. Thank you for sharing the story of how you ended up with your George Burns roses. It was meant to be! I’m sorry they didn’t bloom this year. Have you tried a special fertilizer mix that encourages bloom growth? Maybe some Scotts Rose and Bloom? I have to admit, though, I tried this approach with one bush — it was my mother’s and it hasn’t bloomed the last two years — and it didn’t really help. Still, I will try again this next season. Merry Christmas to you, too!


      1. Thank you. I haven’t tried that yet. But I am going to try and old trick I have used on some of my other plants and flowers. I have used warm to even hot water to water our plants when it is cold here. I will try the Rose and Bloom next year. Thank you.


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