I was more startled by the words than I was to come home and discover that our neighbour was pruning our roses and weeding the narrow strip in which they grow at the same time. She had arranged to do this in return for Dad mending yet another piece of furniture for her. The pieces he has mended have sentimental value.
The roses should have sentimental value for us. My mother planted them. Dad likes roses. I like roses. We do not like the thorns. We would not have roses in the garden by choice. Dad likes 'useful' things. It took him a while to realise the value of things like lavender. The bees love our lavender bushes. They do not discriminate between English or French lavender. We plan to plant an Italian lavender for them as well.
My father does realise the value of good soil. He has been working on the soil in this garden from the day we moved in. It is this that our neighbour thinks is like chocolate. I think she must like chocolate. She had an expression on her face which suggested, "mud pies" and other delightfully messy, small child sort of play. The roses, she assures me, will survive and bloom under her ministrations. No doubt they will.
I have mixed feelings about our garden. I do very little gardening. It is mostly the 'tidying up' sort of gardening. It is Dad's garden. He makes the decisions. A friend comes in once a fortnight and does two hours of the heavy work. Dad can then maintain the rest. He has removed some things since my mother died. Some of them, such as the lemon tree the gas company managed to kill, have had to go. Others have been seasonal. He has put in a new lemon tree, an orange, two grafted apples, a peach and a nectarine - the latter to replace the seedling trees which died in the drought. The rose bushes remain.
After our neighbour had gone home he surveyed the rose bed. It is barely a foot wide and about fifteen feet long.
"Mmm, I don't know, I still think we should get rid of them - but your mother planted them."
I think the roses will stay.