Thirty-three eminent gardeners on their favorite rose
Among the plant kingdom, Rosa is a relatively small genus, comprising only about one hundred species around the globe. But as these species intercross, they have given rise to as many as thirty thousand cultivars, making the rose perhaps the most various of all plants grown in gardens-and one of the most treasured.
This one-of-a-kind collection gathers together thirty-three eminent gardeners and rosarians, including Graham Stuart Thomas, Christopher Lloyd, Thomas C. Cooper, Joe Eck, Michael Pollan, Anne Raver, Page Dickey, Thomas Christopher, David Austin, Peter Beales, Dan Hinkley, and Jamaica Kincaid. Each writes about a favored rose--Rosarie de l'Ha
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.