ROSES: A Celebration

Wayne Winterrowd, Editor, Pamela Stagg, Illustrator , illus. by Pamela Stagg. FSG/North Point $30 (272p) ISBN 978-0-86547-661-5

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. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 07/21/2003
Release date: 10/01/2003
Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-1-4299-6232-2
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