… the incredible history of roses? In Search of Lost Roses, by Thomas Christopher, is an elegant look at how roses and their cultivation have changed over time. In particular, Mr. Christopher focuses on older, heirloom strains. These fragrant, beautiful roses were largely pushed aside by the more dramatic and longer-blooming hybrid tea roses that are so common today.
This book travels across the world and through time, giving us a history of a flower surrounded by history and legend. The author also crossed the United States, meeting with individuals who are seeking out and cultivating old roses. They go through old gardens and graveyards, taking cuttings of promising plants, then look through antique catalogs and garden descriptions, trying to match newly found heirlooms to old names. This book can teach you an amazing amount about a flower everyone knows.
I first learned of In Search of Lost Roses through a science fiction novel and read it to learn what the history of roses has to do with an alien world. (Roses are almost always grown from cuttings because the seeds can produce a very different plant from the parent. The author borrowed this concept and mixed it with some genetic engineering to good effect.) I fell in love with the incredible descriptions, beautiful stories, and eccentric people associated with old roses, to the point where I re-read this book almost as often as the one that inspired me to seek it out.
Reviewed by Fran (staff)