Red rose bush frame isolated on white background

The Rose: Extraordinary Ordinary Things

Whenever I sit down to write one of these essays, I frequently start with an unusual personal experience and expand from there. I tried to do that this time, but it didn’t work. The rose, both physical and conceptual, seems to be so much a part of everyone’s thoughts and experience, any story I could tell probably would quickly be matched and exceeded by someone else’s. So, I gave up. But not entirely.

Anything so intimate and integral to so many people, which characterizes the rose, almost by definition is both ordinary and extraordinary. And occasionally surprising. The rose even plays a significant role in computing and computer science. A fulsome exploration of this unexpected phenomenon will be found in the section “The Rose and Computing” near the end of this essay.

For these (and other) reasons, I have no qualms about welcoming the rose into a place of honor on the list of what I like to call “extraordinary ordinary things.”

What Is a Rose?

If you look at a botanical definition of a rose, you are likely to be turned off by its long, detailed, clinical description. This is not the fault of botanists. As in all other scientific disciplines, botany requires clear, precise, and detailed descriptions so that when one botanist uses the term rose, all other botanists immediately know what he or she is talking about. If fact, you are likely to think they are talking about something totally different from what you have in mind.

However, for the laity, roses have such romantic, poetical connotations that their scientific definition seems almost heretical. So, for the purposes of this essay, let’s use one of the shorter, more down-to-earth definitions found in dictionaries, layman’s encyclopedias, and other popular references.

Perhaps the best short answer to the question “what is a rose?” comes from Interflora, an international flower delivery service that includes 58,000 affiliated flower shops in more than 140 countries.

According to Interflora, the rose is a woody perennial plant that originated in China but is now grown across the world. They thrive in sunny, well-drained soil.

Roses come from the Rosaceae family and bear the Latin name Rosa. They present as multi-petal flowers available in an array of colors (red, pink, yellow, black, white, etc.). Some varieties are known for their prickles along the stems of the plant, which are used to deter predators. Many species are now cultivated by avid gardeners and commercial growers for sale around the world; however, there are still varieties that grow only in the wild.

The first hybrid rose was introduced in 1867. All roses before that date are known as Old Garden Roses while the roses that come after are called Modern Garden Roses.

Roses are Everywhere

In addition to being beautiful and smelling nice (for many people these two characteristics alone would be more than enough to justify their existence), roses have a number of other more practical uses. 


Roses are recognized for their antiseptic, and antioxidant properties, and they are a rich source of vitamins A, B3, C, D, and E. Moreover, various products derived from roses act as antidepressants. These are prepared by crushing the rose petals and extracting the natural rose water, essence, and oils.

Rose water is often added to various eye care products as it provides a cooling and soothing effect to the eyes.

Numerous other claims are made for the medicinal properties of roses and medical products made from them. These include treatments for such serious illnesses as asthma, dehydration, fatigue, nausea, fatigue, and bacterial infections of the stomach, colon, and urinary tract.


Roses are well known for their uses in cooking. A variety of rose-derived products are readily available to the thoughtful or adventurous chef. These include rose syrups, rose essences, rose petal jams, and rose flavoring agents.

Who hasn’t heard of “rose hip” herbal teas, even if they have never tried one? Rose hips are the ripened, usually red or orange accessory fruit of a rose consisting of a fleshy receptacle enclosing numerous achenes, the small, dry, one-seeded fruit of the rose that does not open to release the seed.

They have a tangy, fruity flavor similar to that of cranberries and are generally consumed fresh or dried but can also be crushed; they are the basis for rose hip teas.

Rose oil is used to flavor candy, syrups, desserts, etc. Crushed rose petals are used for preparing various Indian sweets such as rabri, kheer-flavored kulfi, sandesh, etc.


Numerous cosmetic products and treatments benefit from roses. Dried rose petals and water can be formulated into face masks for attaining clean, fair skin. Rose oil and water penetrate deep into the scalp to promote hair growth by reviving hair follicles. Roses are also used in the preparation of a variety of creams, lotions, beauty soaps, etc. Providing nourishment to the skin, roses are used in the treatment of dry skin, dermatitis, eczema, and other skin diseases. Due to its astringent-lime properties, applying rose water before applying makeup can prevent the secretion of excessive oils and sebum such that the makeup last longer.


Flowers have long been the main ingredient in the preparation of perfumes. Given its worldwide popularity, it is no surprise that roses are among the most widely used flowers for this purpose. At a more mundane level, roses are widely appreciated for the preparation of air fresheners and other scented products.

The Rose in Culture

Different cultures and traditions have assigned different symbolic meanings to the rose. The number of associations of the rose in culture is so many that it would be futile to try to list all of them here—or even a fraction of them. So here are just a few of them. If you want to probe the subject further, explore “Rose Symbolism, Colours and Meanings.”


At the mention of the word rose, what color immediately comes to mind? Chances are it is red or perhaps pink. But as noted earlier, roses are present in a wide variety of colors, many of which have symbolic meanings. Broadly speaking:

  • Red = love, romance
  • Blue = mystery, uniqueness
  • Green = abundance, growth
  • Lavender = enchantment, wonder
  • Orange = enthusiasm, passion 
  • Peach = gratitude, sincerity
  • Pink = elegance, sweetness
  • Yellow = friendship
  • White = innocence, purity

The black rose is a kind of an outlier, having both positive and negative connotations. It is frequently used to symbolize death and mourning, making it a common choice for funerals.  Conversely, it can also symbolize confidence, courage, and hope by signaling the start of a new phase or era. (Perhaps the passage from this life into the next?)


Quick, think of the word “rosary.” If the word means anything to you at all, you will probably picture a string of beads used in a religious practice of the Roman Catholic Church. However, what you should really be thinking of is a string of roses used in a religious practice—not only by Roman Catholics but certain other churches as well.

To be totally correct, according to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, rosary has two distinct but interrelated religious meanings.

  • A Roman Catholic devotion consisting of meditation on usually five sacred mysteries during recitation of the five sections of Hail Marys, each one beginning with Our Father and ending with a Gloria Patri.
  • A string of beads used in counting prayers.

Although we may commonly think of a rosary as being associated with Roman Catholicism, the fact is the rosary (often called prayer beads) is used in numerous religious traditions— Baha’i, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Sikhism—to count the number of prayers, chants, or devotions. They may also serve for meditation, protection from negative energy, or relaxation.

But why should the rosary make you think of roses? Because this is its origin.

Originally, the devotion was called “Our Lady’s Psalter,” referring to the 150 Psalms that monks would pray and from which the tradition of the rosary originated. Over time, the Latin word “rosarium” (rose garden, garland of roses) became associated with devotion, largely due to a popular legend that arose in the Middle Ages.

As described in the Catholic Encyclopedia:

“An early legend which after traveling all over Europe penetrated even to Abyssinia connected this name with a story of Our Lady, who was seen to take rosebuds from the lips of a young monk when he was reciting Hail Marys and to weave them into a garland which she placed upon her head.”


The rose has been adopted as the symbol for various cities, countries, organizations, political parties, etc. Here are just a few examples.

England (United Kingdom)

  • The rose is the national flower of England. It should not be confused with the national flower of the United Kingdom, which is the collective name for England, Scotland, Wales, and Ulster (Northern Ireland). Its usage dates back to the 15th  English Civil War (Wars of the Roses), during which a red rose represented the House of Lancaster and a white rose the House of York. Subsequently, the Tudor dynasty (1485–1603) created the Tudor rose, which united the red and white roses of the civil wars.
  • In 1871 both the Rugby Football Union and the England national rugby union team adopted the red rose as their identifying symbol, with the rose obligatorily being emblazoned on the players’ outfits ever since.
  • In politics, the red rose is the symbol of the U.K. Labor Party.

United States of America

  • In 1986, the United States adopted the rose as the national floral emblem. It is also the state flower of five American states (Georgia, Iowa, New York, North Dakota, and Oklahoma) and the District of Columbia.
  • Portland, Oregon, is nicknamed “The City of Roses” and has been the site of an annual Rose Festival since 1905.
  • Pasadena, California is also nicknamed “The City of Roses” because of its spectacular Tournament of Roses Parade held annually since 1890. And because of it being the site of one of the most prestigious end-of-the-season American university football games held in the now-iconic Rose Bowl stadium since 1902.
  • The red rose is part of the official logo of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).


  • In 1930, the wild rose/prickly rose was adopted as the official provincial flower of the province of Alberta.
  • The Wildrose Party, a now-defunct Albertan political party, was named after the province’s official flower.

 Politics and political parties

  • The red rose has been a symbol of socialism since the 1880s, probably derived from the color red being emblematic of socialism since the 1840s.
  • The White Rose (German die Weiße Rose) was a World War II non-violent resistance group in the Third Reich led by a group of students and a professor at the University of Munich. The group conducted an anonymous leaflet and graffiti campaign that called for active opposition to the Nazi party regime. Their activities started in Munich on June 27, 1942, and ended with the arrest of the core group by the Gestapo on February 18, 1943.

In Literature

The rose can be found in the title of numerous fiction books. Not surprisingly, a large number of them are romance novels. However, many of them address other subjects. And a few of them have become massive bestsellers and even turned into major motion pictures. For example:

  • The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
  • I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Hannah Green
  • Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede
  • Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott
  • The Rose and the Sword by Gina Marinello-Sweeney
  • The War of the Roses by Alison Weir
  • A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner
  • Lady of the Roses by Sandra Worth

Nursery Rhymes

Roses are mentioned in numerous nursery rhymes, but by far perhaps the most popular one is:


A pocket full of posies,

A-tishoo! A-tishoo!

We all fall down.

What is generally not recognized is this seemingly whimsical bit of juvenile nonsense may have a very dark undertone. In fact, scholars are still debating the issue, with the discussion being made more difficult by the fact that there are various versions of the rhyme and the bit quoted above is only the first of a number of stanzas, which today are seldom recited.

One such scholar emphatically argues the rhyme arose from the Great Plague, an outbreak of bubonic and pneumonic plague in London in 1665:

Ring-a-ring-a-roses is all about the Great Plague; the apparent whimsy being a foil for one of London’s most atavistic dreads (thanks to the Black Death). The fatalism of the rhyme is brutal: the roses are a euphemism for deadly rashes, the posies a supposed preventative measure; the a-tishoos pertain to sneezing symptoms, and the implication of everyone falling down is, well, death.

Another popular rhyme, usually for somewhat older children, is “Roses are red, violets are blue….” At one time it was used by teenagers to express their tender feelings for each other, especially around Valentine’s Day. It goes, “Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet, and so are you.”

The first documented version of the rhyme occurs in Gammer Gurton’s Garland by Josephy Johnson, a collection of English nursery rhymes published in London in 1784.

The rose is red, the violet’s blue,

The honey’s sweet, and so are you.

Thou art my love, and I am thine;

I drew thee to my Valentine:

The lot was cast, and then I drew,

And fortune said it should be you.

Since it became a staple on Valentine’s Day cards, the phrase “Roses are red, violets are blue”  has become the inspiration for many naive, nasty, and often tasteless jokes. So, if you ever receive a message that starts off with these well-worn words, hold on to your hat. You may not appreciate what follows.

Just for laughs, here are a couple that do not go too far to the extreme.

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

I lied when I said

It’s me, not you.

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,.

I’m sorry I didn’t put as much effort

into these wedding vows

As you

Popular Songs

Given its integral association with love and romance, it should come as no surprise that many, many pop songs feature the rose in their titles. Here is a brief, very brief list of some of them from all genres, all periods, in no particular order.

  • “Desert Rose” by Sting
  • “Bed Of Roses” by Bon Jovi
  • “Roses Are Red (My Love)” by Bobby Vinton
  • “Black Rose” by Thin Lizzy
  • “(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden” by Lynn Anderson
  • “Blood Red Roses” by Rod Stewart
  • “A Good Year for the Roses” by George Jones
  • “A Rose by Any Name” by Blondie
  • “The Rose” by Bette Midler
  • “Eighteen Yellow Roses” by Bobby Darin
  • “The Yellow Rose of Texas” by Mitch Miller
  • “Ramblin’ Rose” by Nat King Cole
  • “Love Is A Rose” by Linda Ronstadt
  • “Say, Has Anybody Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose” by Tony Orlando and Dawn
  • “Days of Wine and Roses” by Henry Mancini
  • “La Vie en Rose” by Edith Piaf
  • “Bread and Roses” by Judy Collins
  • “All Kinds of Roses” by Yusuf Islam
  • “Honeysuckle Rose” by Fats Waller
  • “A Dozen Roses and a Six-Pack” by Cole Swindell
  • “Rose of My Heart” by Bill Haley
  • “My Wild Irish Rose” by Chauncey Olcottes
  • “65 Roses” by Lee J Collier
  • “Rose, Rose, I Love You” by Frankie Lane
  • “A Rose is Still a Rose” by Aretha Franklin
  • “Rose of Sharon” by Mumford & Sons
  • “A Rose Has to Die” by Dooleys
  • “Plastic Roses” by Jessica Sanchez
  • “Paper Roses” by Marie Osmond

And the list goes on.

A Rose by Any Other Name Could Be a Tulip

I have been living in Brussels, Belgium, for quite a number of years. In late spring, I and my wife regularly drive north into the Netherlands to see the Dutch tulip fields. I don’t mean the Keukenhof, the fantastic park near Lisse dedicated to the tulip. We did that at first, but in the season the Keukenhof is so full of tourists that you can hardly move. Instead, we would go to the actual tulip fields where the flowers were being grown for sale. There was nothing like the experience of turning down a narrow country road to be suddenly greeted by rows and rows of blazing blue, orange, red, yellow, and white colors seemingly extending to the horizon.

One day at the very northern end of the tulip growing region in a tiny village called Vogelenzang (Birdsong), we discovered a horticulturist who specialized in cultivating and selling tulip bulbs for planting in gardens. The sales room showed row upon row of differently shaped and colored tulips whose bulbs were on sale. Already a sight to see. However, just outside was a kind of miniature replica of the Kirchenhof, all the pleasure but without the crushing crowds. This was always our last stop on our annual pilgrimage to see the tulips before driving the roughly 250 kilometers back to Brussels.

But what does the paean to the tulip have to do with the rose?

Just this. The name of the tulip-growing horticulturist was Frans Roozen and the name of his establishment was the Frans Rozen Tulip Show. If your knowledge of the language is weak (or non-existent), you should know that the Dutch word for rose is “roos” and the plural is “rozen.” So the best place to see and experience the charm of the tulip is at a place called Frank Roses’ Tulip Show. Just an odd coincidence, but we always found it amusing. Decades later, we still do.

A Shocking Use for Roses

Well, shocking may be an overstatement; but a link between the rose and electricity is very real.

In 2015, researchers from the Laboratory of Organic Electronics at Linköping University in Sweden reported they had successfully made electronic circuits out of roses. The lab had been working on the problem of converting plants into electronic circuits since the 1990s, largely within the bark of living trees, with limited success. They subsequently turned their attention to roses, which proved more responsive to their ministrations.

Why was this important? As explained by one of the researchers, “Now we can really start talking about ‘power plants.’ We can place sensors in plants and use the energy formed in the chlorophyll, produce green antennas, or produce new materials. Everything occurs naturally, and we use the plants’ own very advanced, unique systems.”

To achieve their breakthrough, the researchers invented a particular polymer called PEDOT-S that is sucked up into the rose’s vascular system just like a cut flower sucks up water and plant food in a vase. Once absorbed, the polymer forms so-called wires inside the plant’s xylem, allowing electric signals to be transmitted, but while still allowing the plant to get the nutrients and water it needs to sustain itself.

Plants, like animals, naturally contain electrolytes, i.e., substances that can carry an electric charge. By connecting the wires to the electrolytes, the researchers were able to create a working transistor and a digital gate, the basic building blocks of a computer system. Using a similar polymer, the team was also able to create a colored display on the leaves of a rose by making the polymer inside the leaves change color.

“Computerizing plants” (the work certainly will not stop with roses), the implications of the achievement go far beyond demonstrating the researchers’ scientific prowess. The new technology could be especially useful for ecologists and plant biologists. Growing circuits inside plants promises to give researchers unprecedented insights into how plants truly function, ultimately permitting their growth and health to be monitored with detail and precision far beyond what it currently available.

“Think of the sensors we have for monitoring heart health or brain activity. Now, we might be able to do similar things with plants, a vital part of Earth’s ecosystem,” one commentator enthused.

Quotations about Roses

Two of the most oft-quoted quotations about the rose are from William Shakespeare and Gertrude Stein. They perhaps are also the most misunderstood or enigmatic quotations about roses.

First, Shakespeare

Virtually every literate person on the planet knows the famous quotation “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” But it is not a stand-alone quotation; it is part of the longer sequence in Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliette.” Juliette out on her balcony surveys the scene below and laments:

“O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name. Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, And I’ll no longer be a Capulet . . .

“Tis but thy name that is my enemy. Thou art thyself, though not a Montague. What’s Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot, Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part belonging to a man. O, be some other name!

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet . . . .”

The error many people make is at the very beginning when Juliette says: “O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?” Many people have a picture in their minds of Juliette looking down from her balcony and asking Romeo in the courtyard below to show himself. But this is not the case. Juliette does not know he is there, hiding in the shrubbery.

The phrase “wherefore art are thou Romeo?” does not mean “where are you Romeo?” but rather “why are you, Romeo?” In other words, if he did not bear the name Romeo Capulet but were part of some other family, Juliette’s family, the Montagues, sworn rivals of the hated Capyulets, then there would be no obstacle to their love. They could just get on with having a joyous life together, rather than tragically dying together.

Now Gertrude Stein.

The line “a rose is a rose is a rose” first appeared in Stein’s complex poem “Sacred Emily” (1913). It is broadly interpreted to mean despite their outward appearance, things are what they are, and nothing more. However, there are more profound, and even metaphysical interpretations of the line. In this respect, it seems to have a parallel in the most famous work by Belgian painter René Magritte. The 1929 canvas clearly shows a large picture of a curved, brown pipe against a non-descript pale background. Underneath the are the words “Ceci n’est pas une pipe (This is not a pipe).”

If you wish to explore either of these enigmas further, simply plug in “A rose is a rose is a rose” or “This is not a pipe” into your favorite search engine and prepare to be inundated by the responses.

Not surprisingly, the rose has given rise to an almost endless number of quotations. However, these quotations are somewhat different from those about other subjects in this Extraordinary Ordinary Things series because they break down into three distinct categories:

  • General quotations
  • Anonymous quotations
  • Proverbs

General quotations

General quotations are attributed to specific persons, some very well known, others less well known, but all have something of interest and value to say because they go beyond the conventional quotation he or she observed about the subject.

“There’s no gift more classic and more beautiful than roses.”—La La Anthony

“If you really screw up, send roses.”—Letitia Baldrige

“We all agree now—by ‘we’ I mean intelligent people under 60—that a work of art is like a rose. A rose is not beautiful because it is like something else. Neither is a work of art. Roses and works of art are beautiful in themselves.”—Clive Bell

“O my love is like a red, red rose that’s newly sprung in June.” —Robert Burns (first line of his poem “A Red, Red Rose”)

“Where you tend a rose, my lad, a thistle cannot grow.” —Frances Hodgson Burnett

“A single rose can be my garden… a single friend, my world.”—Leo Buscaglia

“When love came first to earth, the Spring spread rose beds to receive him.”—Thomas Campbell

“A revolution is not a bed of roses.”—Fidel Castro

“The first man to compare the cheeks of a young woman to a rose was obviously a poet; the first to repeat it was possibly an idiot.”—Salvador Dalí

“It will never rain roses: when we want to have more roses we must plant more trees.” – George Eliot

“There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of its existence.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I don’t think anyone looks into their family tree and expects it to come up smelling of roses.”—Martin Freeman

“The optimist sees the rose and not its thorns; the pessimist stares at the thorns, oblivious to the rose.”—Kahlil Gibran

“I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.”—Emma Goldman

“Sweet spring, full of sweet days and roses, a box where sweets compacted lie.”—George Herbert

“We want to give you the roses when you’re dead. That’s how human beings think. I try not to think like a human.”—Bernard Hopkins

“One rose is enough for the dawn.”—Edmond Jabès

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.”—Alphonse Karr

“Roses don’t always grow in the courtyard of kings. They can also grow in the backyard of beggars.”—Anu Malik

“Sweeter than the perfume of roses is a reputation for a kind, charitable, unselfish nature; a ready disposition to do to others any good turn in your power.”—Orison Swett Marden

“An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.”—H. L. Mencken

“Can anyone remember love? It’s like trying to summon up the smell of roses in a cellar. You might see a rose, but never the perfume.”—Arthur Miller

“I love bringing roses to a woman when she least expects it.”—Esai Morales

“You may break, you may shatter the vase if you will, but the scent of the roses will hang round it still.”—Thomas Moore

“Love is much like a wild rose, beautiful and calm, but willing to draw blood in its defense.”—Mark Overby

“The sharp thorn often produces delicate roses.”—Ovid

“A rose’s rarest essence lives in the thorn.”—Rumi

“It’s the time that you spent on your rose that makes your rose so important . . . People have forgotten this truth, but you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed. You’re responsible for your rose.”— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“Marriage is like life— it is a field of battle, not a bed of roses.”—Robert Louis Stevenson

“Truths and roses have thorns about them.”—Henry David Thoreau

“We may pass violets looking for roses. We may pass contentment looking for victory.” \—Bernard Williams

“If the rose puzzled its mind over the question of how it grew, it would not have been the miracle that it is.”—J. B. Yeats

Anonymous quotations

Anonymous quotations (often abbreviated Anon) are interesting or enlightening things someone has said, but no one knows who.

“Forgiveness is the scent that the rose leaves on the heel that crushes it.” —Anon

“True friendship is like a rose, we don’t realize its beauty until it fades.” —Anon

“A life filled with love must have some thorns, but a life empty of love will have no roses.”—Anon

“A woman is like a rose . . . If you take good care of her, you will see love blossom.”— Anon

“There may be many flowers in one’s life . . . but only one rose.” —Anon

“You’d get a lot more work done if you didn’t stop and smell the roses so often.”—Anon

“My love is like a rose divided into two, the leaves I give to others, but the rose I give to you.”—Anon

“Beauty without virtue is like a rose without scent.”—Anon


A proverb is an anonymous quotation that has become so embedded in the collective consciousness that it is considered to be a pearl of wisdom everyone in a particular culture should know and pay homage to.

Many of the proverbs below will have equivalents in other countries and other cultures. They should not be considered unique only to the country or culture cited.

“Beauty without virtue is a rose without fragrance.” (American)

“Gather rosebuds while you may.” (American)

“He that plants thorns must never expect to gather roses.” (Arab)

“A thorn defends the rose, harming only those who would steal the blossom.” (Chinese)

“A bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives you roses.” (Chinese)

“He who would gather roses, must not fear thorns.” (Dutch)

“Roses fall, but the thorns remain.” (Dutch)

“Truths and roses have thorns about them.” (French)

“Those who don’t pick roses in summer won’t pick them in winter either.” (German)

“However long the sun shines upon a thistle, it will never become a rose.” (German)

“The most beautiful roses grow on graves.” (German)

“From a thorn comes a rose, and from a rose comes a thorn.” (Greek)

“Patience brings roses.” (Hungarian)

“Only the nightingale understands the rose.” (Indian)

“Many a rose-cheeked apple is rotten at the core.”  (Irish)

“Beauty widout grace is like a rose widout smell.”  (Jamaican)

“Revolutions are not made with rose water.” (Latin)

“The road to hell is strewn with roses.” (Mexican)

“For the sake of a single rose, the gardener becomes servant to a thousand thorns.” (Moroccan)

“The world is a rose, smell it, and pass it to your friends.” (Persian)

“If you lie upon roses when you are young, you will lie upon thorns when you are old.” (Romanian)

“If your heart is a rose, then your mouth will speak fragrant words.” (Russian)

“If you are among the roses, your friends will look for you among the thorns.” (Swedish)

“Thorns and roses grow on the same bush.” (Turkish)

“The rose comes from the thorns that were born of roses.” (Turkish)

“Man is harder than iron, stronger than stone, and more fragile than a rose.” (Turkish)

The Rose and Computing

The word “rose” has a variety of meanings in the world of computing.


This acronym stands for the Apple Real-time Operating System Environment. A/ROSE  was a small, embedded operating system that ran on Apple’s Macintosh Coprocessor platform, an expansion card for the Apple Macintosh. Released in 1988, A/ROSE was described as being a single “overdesigned” hardware platform on which third-party vendors could build practically any product, thus reducing the otherwise heavy workload of developing a NuBus-based expansion card.

However, the MCP cards were fairly expensive. Thus, A/ROSE saw very little use, largely limited to Apple’s own networking cards for serial I/O, Ethernet, Token Ring, and Twinax. The sole exception was GreenSpring Computers and their RackMac1260, The RM 1260 became the only industrial version of the Macintosh computer ever put on the market. In addition to the main computer (RM1200) was a 14-inch monitor available with a touchscreen (RM1240 w/o touchscreen and RM1250 w/ touchscreen).

Rose’s Law

Perhaps the most famous law in computing science is Moore’s Law. Based on an observation by Intel founder Gordon Moore. In 1965, Moore’s law states the number of transistors on a single chip would double every two years, which has proved to be largely correct. In 2021, certain advanced chips contained some 65 billion transistors.  

Less well-known is Rose’s Law, named for Geordie Rose, founder of D-Wave, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Geordie Rose is a leading advocate for quantum computing and physics-based processor design. Propounded in the first decade of the 21st century, Rose’s Law projected quantum computing qubits should double approximately every two years, which turned out to be largely correct.

The term “law” in Moore’s Law, Rose’s Law, and a number of others should be taken with a grain of salt. They in no way pretend to be laws in the physics sense, but rather speculations based on observable trends.

ROSE Laboratory

ROSE is a Yale University computer science laboratory that focuses on using formal methods to improve software reliability. Some of its projects include functional reactive synthesis, symbolic execution engine for Haskell, and verification of configuration files.

RoSE: Robust, Secure & Efficient Wide-Areas Routing

The internet as a sine qua non of modern life began taking off in the mid-1990s and had become almost ubiquitous in the early 2000s. Yet given its primordial importance, the routing architecture was surprisingly fragile. In particular, software bugs put the system constantly at risk of loss of connectivity. ROSE (Robust, Secure & Efficient Wide-Areas Routing) was a groundbreaking attempt to resolve the problems.

It was based on the observation that modeling individual network components in isolation would be insufficient. Therefore, they strove to understand the end-to-end behavior of networks (in terms of performance, reachability, or security properties) by building a model of the dynamic interactions across protocol layers (e.g., IP-routing and application layer) and between network components (e.g., sets of routers with different policy configurations, packet filters, and firewalls).

The work was carried out by the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of California, Davis, California.

Rational Rose

Rational Rose is an object-oriented unified modeling language (UML) software design tool intended for visual modeling and component construction of enterprise-level software applications. In much the same way a theatrical director blocks out a play, a software designer uses Rational Rose to visually create (model) the framework for an application by blocking out classes with actors (stick figures), using case elements (ovals), objects (rectangles), and messages/relationships (arrows) in a sequence diagram using drag-and-drop symbols. Rational Rose documents the diagram as it is being constructed and then generates code in the designer’s choice of C+, Visual Basic, Java, Oracle 8, Corba, or Data Definition Language.

Rose tree

Rose tree is a term for the value of a tree data structure with a variable and unbounded number of branches per node. Aside from multi-branching, the key characteristic of rose trees is the coincidence of bisimilarity with identity,

Where Do We Go from Here?

The rose is a particularly appreciated product of horticulture (art, science, technology, and business of plant cultivation), which in turn is part of the even broader science of agriculture. Commenting on how technology, and in particular computer technology, already has and will continue to radically reshape agriculture could easily fill a book, and frequently has. Here we will limit our speculations to the anticipated applications of computer science to horticulture.

Throughout this brief overview, it will be useful to bear in mind that horticultural crops require more direct attention and monitoring per plant than arable crops. This is to ensure that any emerging pests and diseases are limited to an acceptable threshold. The establishment of this intensive but integrated management approach paved the way for technological improvements that automated and optimized farm operations that were previously performed manually, introducing more precision and reliability.

In an extensive look forward, Andrew Lee, global technical knowledge manager at Grodan, a leading horticulture supplies company in the United Kingdom, commented on trends in horticulture technology that will likely totally transform the industry over the next decade or so.

As he points out: “Within the next 10 years, we are going to see a completely different greenhouse. It might look the same from the outside, but on the inside you’ll see different sensors, drones, and robots, and greenhouse operators managing the whole thing using an array of dashboards.”

He further notes the sector will undergo a significant change of character, during which it will gradually move away from “descriptive growing” (using graphics to determine what happened) to “prescriptive growing” (computers telling growers what to do), ultimately arriving at “autonomous control” (total automation).

“Ten years from now we will see the first fully autonomous greenhouse, operating by itself. It will be managed by artificial intelligence (AI), using data and new sensor technologies . . . . This is not science fiction anymore, but almost a reality that is within touching distance,” Lee says.

He is particularly enthusiastic about the different plant sensing technologies currently under development to carry out tasks such as digital phenotyping and digital imaging.

“Digital phenotyping is a state-of-the-art imaging technology which measures and analyzes key phenotypic data of the plant. In other words; it tracks how the plant is responding to the environment in which it is being grown . . . Technologies like these will revolutionize the process of manual crop registration and will be pivotal in a future data-driven autonomous greenhouse,” he says

Lee, as do many others, points to the lack of qualified workers as a key challenge to the horticulture industry. He cites two key technological developments expected to come to fruition over the relatively near future to substantially reduce the problem.

  • Robots will be used routinely for harvesting the plants, thus reducing the need for manual labor,
  • Scouting for pests and diseases, and manually distributing biological control agents, will be a thing of the past. Where needed, scouting robots will be used to identify, map, and instruct spray robots in the precision application of plant protection, also substantially reducing the need for manual labor.