The old gardener cultivated many, many varieties of roses. Like a bee, he sent pollen from this flower to that flower, hand-pollinating it in all the different kinds of roses. In this way, he bred many new varieties. These new varieties became his beloved treasures, and aroused the envy of those who refused to work as hard as the bees. He never picked a single flower to give away. Because of this, he got a reputation of being selfish and obnoxious. A beautiful lady once came to visit him. When this lady left, also empty-handed did not take a flower, only mouth repeatedly muttered the words of the gardener to her. From then on, besides calling him selfish and obnoxious, people regarded him as a madman, and no one paid any attention to him anymore.
"Madam, you are so beautiful!" The gardener said to the beautiful lady, "I would gladly give you all the flowers of my garden! But in spite of my age, I still don't know how to pick a rose that is whole and alive. Are you laughing at me? Oh! Don't laugh at me, I beg you, don't laugh at me."
The old gardener took the beautiful lady to the rose garden, where a wonderful rose was blooming, a brilliant red flower? It seemed to be a bright red heart abandoned among thistles.
"You see, madam," said the gardener, as he stroked the flowers with his skillful calloused hands, "I have been watching the whole process of a rose blooming. The red petals grow out of the calyx as if they were the red flames of a small bonfire. Could it be that taking the embers out of the bonfire would still keep its roaring flame? The calyxes are delicate and slowly grow out of the long stems, while the flowers come out on the branches. It is impossible to separate them exactly. I also observed that as the roots of the rose tree spread downward, the branches slowly turned white, and its roots, by the action of the water that seeped out of the ground, became firmly united with the earth.
"If I don't even know where to start counting a rose, how can I pick it and give it to someone else? If I pluck it and give it away, do you know, madam? The life of a broken thing is very short.
"Every year, in October, the buds of the budding rose bloom. I struggled to know from where the rose began to bloom. I never dared to say: 'My rose tree is in bloom.' Instead, I always exclaimed, "The earth is blooming, wonderful!" In my youth, I was rich, strong, beautiful, kind-hearted, and faithful. At that time there were four women who loved me.
"The first woman loved me for my money. In the hands of that debauched woman, my property was quickly squandered.
"The second woman loved my robust physique, and she wanted me to fight and defeat my lovers. But soon, my energy dried up along with her love.
"The third woman loved my handsome appearance, and she kissed me endlessly, and poured out to me many loving and flattering words. My handsome looks faded along with my youth, and that woman's love for me was finished.
"The fourth woman loved me for my faithfulness and kindness. She used this in me for her own benefit, and at last I saw her hypocrisy and abandoned her.
"At that time, madam, I was like four roses on a rose-tree, four women, each of whom plucked one. But if a rose-tree can welcome a hundred springs, a rose can have only one spring. My poor roses, so it was, once they were plucked, also withered forever.
"Since then, no one has ever taken a single picked flower from my garden. I say to all who come to my garden: 'When will you stop being enthusiastic about things that are divided and incomplete? If you can really divide everything clearly, if you can really figure out where the rose grows to count as a calyx and where it begins to count as a flower, then go to the place where the rose blooms and pick it.'"