This is the story of a gardener who grew the most beautiful single rose the world had ever seen. It was a black rose, which was unlikely, and it bloomed the whole year round, which was impossible.
Hearing of this rose, the King decided to see it for himself. With his entourage, he rode for seven days to the gardener's simple cottage. On the morning of the seventh day, he arrived and saw the rose. It was even more beautiful than the King had imagined, and he wanted it.
"How did you come to grow such a beautiful rose?" the King asked the gardener, who was standing silently by.
“I planted that rose on the day my wife died,” replied the gardener, looking only at the flower. “It is a true, deep black, the very color of her hair. The rose grew from my love of her.”
The King turned to his servants and said, “Uproot this rosebush and take it to the palace. It is too beautiful for anyone but me.”
But when the rosebush was transplanted to the palace, it lasted only a year before it withered and died. The King, who had gazed upon it every day, angrily decided that it was the gardener’s fault, and he set out at once to punish him.
But when he arrived at the gardener’s cottage, he was amazed to see a new rosebush growing there, with a single rose. But this rose was green, and even more beautiful than the black rose.
The King once again asked the gardener how he came to grow such a beautiful rose.
“I planted this rose on the anniversary of my wife’s death,” said the gardener, his eyes only on the rose. “It is the color of her eyes, which I looked into every morning. The rose grew from my love of her.”
“Take it!” commanded the King, and he turned away to ride the seven days back to his palace. Such a beautiful flower was not fit for a common man.
The green rose bloomed for two years, and the King looked upon it every day, for it brought him great contentment. Then, one morning, it was dead, the bush withered, the petals fallen to the ground. The King picked up the petals and spoke to no one for two days. Then he said, as if to convince himself, “The gardener will have another rose.”
So once again he rode off with his entourage. This time, they took a spade and the palace jardinier.
Such was the King’s impatience that they rode for half the nights as well as days, but there were wrong turns and flooded bridges, and it still took seven days before he once again rode up to the gardener’s cottage. And there was a new rosebush, with a single rose. A red rose, so beautiful that the King’s men were struck silent and the King himself could only stare and gesture to the palace jardinier to take it away.
Even though the King didn’t ask, the gardener spoke before the spade broke the earth around the bush.
“I planted this rose three years after the death of my wife,” he said. “It is the color of her lips, which I first kissed under a harvest moon on the hottest of summer nights. This rose grew from my love of her.”
The King seemed not to hear but kept staring at the rose. Finally he tore his gaze away and turned his horse for home.
The jardinier watched him go and stopped digging for a moment.
“Your roses are the most beautiful I have ever seen,” he said. “They could only grow from a great love. But why grow them only to have these memories taken from you?”
The gardener smiled and said, “I need nothing to remind me of my wife. When I walk alone under the night sky, I see the blackness of her hair. When the light catches the green glass of a bottle, I see her eyes. When the sun is setting all red against the hills and the wind touches my cheek, I feel her kiss.
“I grew the first rose because I was afraid I might forget. When it was gone, I knew that I had lost nothing. No one can take the memory of my love.”
The jardinier frowned, and he began to cut again with his spade. Then he asked, “But why do you keep growing the roses?”
“I grow them for the King,” said the gardener. “He has no memories of his own, no love. And after all, they are only flowers."