Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Rose By Any Name

Some books are irresistible. So, for me, is A Rose by Any Name: The Little-Known Lore and Deep-Rooted History of Rose Names. This book is a charmer on many levels. Most obvious to the casual peruser of books is the eye-catching cover and glorious selection of artwork throughout the book. This is not a straightforward encyclopedia of roses with glossy photos and descriptive text for each entry. No, this is something more--the artwork is culled from heirloom rose catalogs, paintings, rare books, and magazines. The thick, creamy pages are edged in soft green. Each chapter features a rose in text and in art, as well as others of its class or relation. Yet, for all its beauty, the book is not a mere gift book (although it would make a great gift for any lover of art, antiquities or roses). The text is delicious, too: informative and fact-filled, the authors' love of roses permeates every line. It's a delightful and chatty ramble through the history of roses and the people who love(d) them. Want a small taste? Below are the first lines from the entry on 'Dr. Huey', the sturdy rose on whose rootstock many modern roses are grafted.

" 'Dr. Huey' really gets around. In Brooklyn, New York, for instance, this local denizen is often seen lounging against stoops, crowding doorways, and leaning over concrete grottos that house statues of the Virgin Mary. Ninety miles east of there, upscale Hamptons nurseries sometimes tag the same plant "Long Island Red," claiming to have found it on old estates, and price it at $350 a pop. From the rush of buyers you'd have thought they were hawking heirloom Tiffany sterling. Sure, this rose is beautiful--but only for a day or two. Then heat and humidity leave the velvety flowers hanging like rags, their limp petals the color of dried blood. This is 'Dr. Huey', undercover agent of the rose world."

Don't you love it? Check it out from the Library. You, like me, might find you have to get a copy of your own!

1 comment:

  1. This certainly sounds like an interesting book. I don't have many roses myself, but I love them and admire those who have the patience to tend them properly. No other flower can compare to their beauty!

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