cover image Glory of Roses

Glory of Roses

Allen Lacy, Christopher Baker. Stewart, Tabori, & Chang, $50 (240pp) ISBN 978-1-55670-155-9

This bounteous book, brimming with color photographs on virtually every page, would make a graceful addition to any rose-lover's coffee table. And while not the hands-on sort of production that readers might expect from Lacy (see preceding review), the text is thick with know-how and consistently entertaining. Though admitting that he is no rosarian, Lacy loves roses well enough to savor their singular beauty and delve into the rich vein of history and lore that surrounds them. He cites writers, from Pliny to Washington Post columnist Henry Mitchell, who have aided and abetted the rose as the pre-eminent flower--and a powerful symbol--in Western culture. The author also muses on the vagaries of rose nomenclature, by which, for example, the French Rose du Roi became Lee's Crimson Perpetual in England following the Napoleonic Wars. (Nowadays plants are frequently named after not-so-imperial icons, such as Jiminy Cricket and the Chrysler Imperial.) Gardeners yearning for a new growing season should find solace and inspiration in Baker's photographs, which capture roses in all their splendor, whether in the exquisite enclaves of Giverny and Sissinghurst or naturalized on the New England coastline. (Oct.)