“I never promised you a rose garden.”

THE ORIGIN OF THE FAMOUS LINE:

“I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” 
Hannah Green (pen name of Joanne Greenberg; 1927–1996)
       American author
       Title of her 1964 novel
       This novel, first published on April 16, 1964, is the apparent source of what became a well-known saying. It was made especially famous by country music singer Lynn Anderson’s 1970 hit song of the same name. The well-known opening lyrics of the song, written by singer/songwriter Joe South, are: “I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden.”
        Greenberg’s novel is a semi-autobiographical account of her struggle with schizophrenia as a teenager. In an emotional scene in the book, psychotherapist Dr. Clara Fried tells the main character, Deborah Blau: “I never promised you a rose garden. I never promised you perfect justice and I never promised you peace or happiness. My help is that so you can be free to fight for all of these things. The only reality I offer is challenge, and being well is being free to accept it or not at whatever level you are capable. I never promise lies, and the rose-garden world of perfection is a lie…and a bore too!” Dr. Fried is based on Greenberg’s real psychiatrist, Dr. Frieda Fromm-Reichmann, who treated her at the Chestnut Lodge hospital in Rockville, Maryland.
       The novel was adapted into a movie in 1977. It starred Kathleen Quinlan as Deborah and Bibi Andersson as Dr. Fried. Mel Gibson made his screen debut in the film, in a small uncredited role as a baseball player. Many years later, Mel uttered his own scary quote about a garden. (See below.)

THE BADASS MARINE SLOGAN:

“We don’t promise you a rose garden.”
        U.S. Marines recruiting slogan
 used from late 1971 until mid-1984
        The “Rose Garden” slogan was used in the first series of posters and ads that featured the tagline “The Marines are looking for a few good men.”
       
Several posters in series showed Marine Drill Instructors yelling at new recruits, like the one shown here. The drill instructor in it is Sgt. Charles A. Taliano, who passed away in 2010.
       

THE BADASS JUDGE VERSION:

“Nobody promised them [prison inmates] a rose garden…They have been convicted of crime, and there is nothing in the Constitution which forbids their being penalized as a result of that conviction.”
       William Rehnquist (1924-2005)
       Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court 
       From his written decision on the 1981 U.S. Supreme Court case Atiyeh v. Capps, explaining why the court rejected a lawsuit brought by a group of Oregon prison inmates against the State of Oregon. The inmates wanted Oregon prisons to be forced to reduce prison overcrowding conditions they contended were inhumane and illegal.
       

THE PASSION OF MEL VERSION:

“Apparently Mel Gibson did promise his babymama Oksana Grigorieva a rose garden…But totally not in a good way. In the latest round of the seemingly endless parade of embarrassing tape leaks purporting to capture the Passion of the Christ helmsman in full meltdown mode, a new snippet of conversation has emerged, in which Gibson reportedly threatens to bury Grigorieva in the flower bed of his Malibu, California, mansion.”
       From a now-deleted post on the PEACE FM Online site, July 9, 2010 
       

THE PRESIDENTIAL VERSION:

“I never promised you a rose garden but I guess [Press Secretary] Ron Nessen did. So, I hope you enjoy this new setting and the new format, and I hope I enjoy it, too.”
       President Gerald R. Ford (1913-2006)              
       Comment in a news conference on October 9, 1974
       Ford was joking about his newly announced plan to hold press conferences in the White House Rose Garden. When Ford and other presidents later started using this option during campaign periods to avoid the usual campaign travel grind while still generating news stories and looking presidential, it was dubbed the “Rose Garden Strategy.”
       

THE BIONIC MAN AND WOMAN VERSION:

Col. Steve Austin (actor Lee Majors): “Now wait a minute, Jaime, you’re not going out a torpedo tube. Now you felt the sub, it’s gonna be rough out there.” 
Jaime Sommers (actress Lindsay Wagner): “You never promised me a rose garden.”              
       Banter from the “Kill Oscar: Part 3” episode of the American TV series The Bionic Woman (Season 2, Episode 6, first aired in 1976).            

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Comments? Corrections? Post them on my Famous Quotations Facebook page or send me an email.

Related listening and reading…

 Related reading, listening and viewing…

  1. I Never Promised You A Rose Garden
    $6.22
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    07/15/2024 02:09 am GMT
  2. I Never Promised You a Rose Garden...
    $2.47
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    07/16/2024 03:31 am GMT
  3. Rose Garden
    $9.99
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    07/16/2024 02:49 am GMT
  4. Bionic Woman (Classic) Season 2
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.