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Roses - A CelebrationBOOK REVIEWS

A Celebration

Thirty-three Eminent Gardeners
on Their Favorite Rose

Edited by Wayne Winterrowd
Original Paintings by Pamela Stagg
Published by Frances Lincoln
Distributed by Bookwise International

SURELY nothing new can be written about the virtues and beauty of roses? Hasn't everything that could be said, in a literary sense been said? Well, sceptics, this hard-back will stifle those yawns.

American garden writer/editor Wayne Winterrowd's formula is disarmingly simple — just gather 32 eminent gardeners and ask them why roses are so loved; what roses have that other flowers lack. The result is, as Winterrowd points out, a book "made up of essays not so much about roses as about personal memories of them".

Some writers, particularly the British contingent, will need no introduction — Graham Stuart Thomas, Christopher Lloyd, David Austin among them. The American voices may be less familiar. No matter: reminiscence and knowledge overlap to engage and enchant the reader.

Favourite essays include New York Times gardening columnist Ann Raver on her lost rugosa, 'Roseraie de I'Hay', and novelist Jamaica Kincaid on her edgy relationship with 'Alchymist'. Christopher Lloyd's heresies raise a chuckle ("... I like roses when they are at their brief best in your garden rather than mine"). Massachusetts landscape designer Julie Moir Messervy's opening line is just as brazen: "I'll admit it — I never really liked roses very much."

Fergus Garrett, head gardener at Lloyd's Great Dixter, and half Turkish, offers a delightful insight on the rose's place in the Turkish culture and a couple of recipes as well. Pamela Stagg's graceful watercolours are a striking foil for the text.

Roses A Celebration is a must for rosarians and an intriguing read for the rest of us mere gardening mortals.

Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH

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Last updated: March 1, 2021