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Interview With A Rose


By Mark Davis

Published Jan 1, 2014 8:00 AM

How does it feel? Uprooted, transplanted, no bed to call their own — UCLA's Sue Young Rose Garden has rambled across campus since first planted in 1998. In our irregular “Interview with an Inanimate Object” series, our reporter pursues answers to the age-old question, “Is Bruin life really a bed of roses?”


Illustration by Scott Menchin

Oh, there you are! Sorry I’m late.

Are you the one sent to investigate? We’ve been waiting in the sun, waiting for someone. Anyone.

I sincerely apologize, but Sue Young Rose Garden, you’re hard to find. You sure seem to get around.

What’s so hard? You must be blind. You were lost. But see? We’re found.

Well, I first checked the front of the James West Alumni Center …

We are long gone from there.

Then the Westwood median …

From whence we were moved, with loving care.

If you look there now, it’s a pit, it’s bare. Soon the Luskin Center will occupy that space, UCLA is an ever-changing place.

As for where we now reside, we occupy a place of pride. The gardeners worked, our root stocks fed. They tilled the earth, removed some sod and made for us the ideal bed, in the northeast corner of cherished Royce Quad. We’ve moved a lot. The subject’s done. We’re happy here, might you please move on?

I understand. You’ve had many homes since you were first commissioned and planted in honor of Chancellor Emeritus Charles E. Young M.A. ’57, Ph.D. ’60 and the late Sue Young ’77, the first lady of UCLA, from 1968 to 1997. I’m sure moving is a thorny topic.

Oh, dear, really, not thorns but prickles. This horticultural error makes us … um … sickle? Wait, no, this type of error puts us in a pickle. Yes, that’s it, it puts us in a pickle!

About that. I’ve noticed that when you speak, you tend to exhibit a bit of pique. And more than that, it seems each time you answer me, well, you answer in rhyme.

There, you see, you can do it as well. There is no mystery to dispel. To speak in rhyme, it’s not so hard, though credit still goes to The Bard.

Our garden is named for Mrs. Young, an academic of some renown. She wrote a book of rhyming words, which you can buy on Amazon.

Yes, The New Comprehensive American Rhyming Dictionary, published by Collins Reference. By the way, I’m not sure that last one quite worked. The meter was off, but we’ll let it pass.

Oh, how very, very kind. You try making it work each time.

Not to be pedantic, but strictly speaking, that one didn’t work either — more assonance than rhyme.

[Uncomfortably long silence]

So … how do you like your new digs?

One might say we’re as happy as pigs … A cliché, I think, I will not complete. We, after all, are proper, discreet. But like good Bruins around the Earth, we thrive and prosper and prove our worth when we find ourselves in a new surrounding. Our successes are, quite often, resounding! We are optimists one and all, blooming gloriously from winter to fall.

You do sport a beautiful bloom. UCLA yellow-gold, very unique.

Though I must point out, we start out pink. No, that’s not entirely true. We actually begin with a blush of red. But we quickly mature beyond that hue. Better dead, as they say, than clothed in red. Yes, oh yes, you heard what I said.

I know you are officially registered as Forever Young with the American Rose Society, but do you have individual names? You know, a rose by any other —

Inanimate Interviews

Want to hear from other objects around UCLA? Check out these stories as well:

Interview with the Bruin

Interview with a Trophy

Interview with an Icon

Oh please, my dear, let me stop you there. A tired joke, it reeks of stale air.

So tell me something about you that most people don’t know.

We don’t wish to brag, indeed we’re reticent, but did you know of our background in medicine? Such words rarely pass a lady’s lips, but we are most proud of our rounded hips. Cloistered monks helped us thrive, through medieval times we only survived in walled gardens where we were tended, for healing purposes intended.

Now if you have no further questions, the sun is high, our patience tried, our nap is near. This interview’s ended.