Roses are a varied, prickly bunch; so are the 33 prominent gardener-writers represented here. Combine the two and you have a colorful collection of essays that are wise, witty, informative and impassioned. Except for David Austin's paean to his own commercial line of roses, this "celebration" is not a pious homage. To Christopher Lloyd, who scandalized rose worshippers by removing the rose garden from his famous Great Dixter estate, "this ridiculously idolized shrub" represents "an infinite vista of pain and frustration." Yet he, along with a surprising number of like-minded fellow contributors, admits that "some roses are worth struggling for, after all." The late Henry Mitchell, happily present here as the subject of Allen Lacy's narrative, observed that "the average rosebush is nearly as ugly as anything in the floral kingdom." Still, he grew and hybridized them, naming one-now in Lacy's care-for his wife. The modern hybrid teas are included among only one writer's favorites and receive generally bad marks. A notable exception is Michele Lamontagne's moving account of the remarkable history of Peace. For the most part it is the Chinas, Damasks, Rugosas and Bourbons that win these gardeners' hearts, and there is enough balanced, practical information to inspire readers to try them. Readers can be especially thankful for the presence of the renowned rosarian Graham Stuart Thomas, who managed to complete his contribution before his death last April. Pamela Stagg's original watercolors add a beautiful note.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Daisies may be delightful and carnations as charming as they come, but it's hard to imagine either of them inspiring volumes of rhapsodic prose extolling their virtues. This, it seems, is the exclusive purview of the rose, at least as far as Winterrowd is concerned, and he's brought together 32 distinguished gardeners and garden writers to honor their favorite rose in a captivating collection of essays, exquisitely complemented by Pamela Stagg's sumptuous paintings. From Lauren Springer's lyrical tribute to the "Yellow Rose of Texas" to Allen Lacy's fond memorial to Henry Mitchell and the rose he named "Ginny," the essays are as regal as the queen of the garden herself. Heartfelt and humorous, intimate and illuminating, they reveal as much about the personality of the writer as they do about the particulars of the flower. Though much practical information is to be found, the anthology shines as an illustrious paean to the history and lore, the romance and grace, that have earned the rose these writers' affection and esteem. Carol Haggas
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