24 January 2018

A living rose can bring joy and, like special memories, grow more beautiful with each passing year. Little wonder then, that remembrance roses are among the most popular garden flowers to buy and gift in memory of someone special.

I think about Brian all the time

For Penny Thompson, the gift of a yellow rose called Bright Smile is a special reminder of her lovely husband Brian, who is never far away from her thoughts.

“Brian was a police officer for 30 years and really proud of the fact that he didn’t seem the type! He was really friendly and had an amazing smile that lit him up,” she says.

Penny and Brian in their gardenPenny and Brian in their sunny garden

Brian’s Bright Smile remembrance rose has additional significance for Penny, because it was gifted to her by her long-lost brother, David, whom she and Brian had only recently met.

##Wonderful surprises

“He’d always known about me and our two brothers, but it took him 17 years to track us down,” says Penny, who lives in Shropshire.

“David and Brian got on like a house on fire. My brother later said that it had been such a big deal for him to come to our house for the first time and that Brian had been so welcoming.

A yellow Bright Smile rose in bloom This lovely Bright Smile rose is from David Austin Roses

“The roses arrived a month after Brian’s funeral. Brian always had a bright welcoming smile, so I planted one by my front door, where it welcomes me home, and visitors too. It’s the first to flower in the spring.

The other one’s in a spot in the back garden where I like to sit.”

##Eternal love

Flowers also inspired the name behind the new path Penny took, after she lost Brian. Organising his celebration of life led her to become an independent celebrant, together with lifelong friend Angela Booton.

They help people plan meaningful ceremonies and promises, for the unique weddings, anniversaries, births and goodbyes they celebrate.

Angela Booton and Penny Thompson Penny, right, and good friend Angela love helping people celebrate life moments in unique ways

Penny and Angela thought Hibiscus Ceremonies was the perfect name for what they do, because the hibiscus flower has special meaning in many cultures across the world.

In Japan, it signifies gentleness. In South Korea, it represents immortality of love.

A hibiscus flower in bloom The beautiful Hibiscus flower has a special meaning. Photo by Cameron Ahlvers on Unsplash

“I think about Brian all the time,” says Penny, who says she had to learn all about looking after the garden he loved, where his Bright Smile rose now grows.

“I still regard the garden as Brian’s, but it has become very special to me, because it was his and now it’s mine. It’s a special place to be.”

words that read "I love you every day"

Penny has made her own mark by planting a herb garden, where she teaches people how to use herbs to make natural beauty products. And, when Bright Smile comes into bloom, the very first flowers she picks are for Brian.

“They are the obvious flowers to take to him,” she smiles.