A Rose by Any Name: The Little-Known Lore and Deep-Rooted History of Rose Names Hardcover – Feb 3 2009
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"Rose aficionados, acclaimed authors, and dedicated gardeners, Brenner and Scanniello deftly explore the intricate history and enduring mystery behind four dozen of the most famous, obscure, exotic, and unassuming names in rose cultivation. . . .The authors provide plenty of arcane facts and tantalizing revelation in an equally entertaining and educational foray into the competitive, complicated, and frequently comical world of rose naming."―Booklist
“A rose by any other name might smell as sweet, but its history would be very different. . . . Covering social and cultural history, technology, art, and science, A Rose by Any Name proves that a whole world can be found within the petals of a single rose. Consider the excerpt that follows our valentine to you.”―Martha Stewart Living
“[Brenner & Scaniello] tell the naming stories of some 1,200 varieties of roses among the more than 15,000 registered rose species and cultivars in their highly entertaining new book, A Rose by Any Name. Each of its illuminating chapters reads almost like a mini biography, albeit of a plant. Best of all, the authors even reveal how you can name a rose after yourself.”―Town & Country
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Douglas Brenner and Stephen Scanniello set out to solve those mysteries. They initially chose about four dozen roses with interesting histories. But the problem with roses and their stories is that when you start out discussing one tale, it leads to another story about another rose which leads to yet another story about another rose, etc. By the time the authors finished, the four dozen roses had become over 1200.
It's those stories that make this book so fascinating. Rather than a dry list of names each followed by a short explanation of the person/place/thing for which the rose was named, we are treated to tales of danger, intrigue, humor and pathos, all with historical tidbits thrown in to put it into context.
We visit gardens that no longer exist and gardens that are still going strong. We learn about the game "Rose Alphabet" wherein players must come up with rose names for each letter of the alphabet. Also included are several recipes using rose petals or hips along with the story of the discovery of rose oil in India.
Most of all, it's the people and their stories. Gods and goddesses, kings and queens, saints and sinners. Presidents, war heroes, painters, fashion designers, actors and actresses. Humbler folk such as family members of rose breeders.
The authors debunk a few legends. My personal favorite is the quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt: "I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall." Not true, unfortunately.
A glossary of rose and gardening terms is included as well as a bibliography, both very helpful. The lack of an index was the one glaring omission in this otherwise wonderful book. There is no way to look up a specific rose.
As for the "people" growing in my gardens? Five of them are covered, but you will have to read the book yourself to find out which ones and the stories behind them.
for someone who loves and grows roses.
There were a few small disappointments, foremost of which was, since it was an ARC, the lack of color photographs. The letter I received with my copy assured me that the book would be in full color upon it's February release. There was something almost wrong about looking at the colorless pictures provided in my copy. I also don't know if I would have arranged the book in the way my copy was arranged, alphabetically by title. I likely would have tried to create sections; i.e. Famous Names, Rose Types, History and Myth, etc. I found it somewhat distracting to bounce from one type to another. Who knows though, this could be different by the release as well.
I would recommend this book to anyone who has a love of gardening, roses, or etymology. It was a quick absorbing read I can easily see toting with me on my next summer trip to Longwood Gardens or the like.
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