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In Search of Lost Roses Paperback – May 1, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 1 edition (May 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780226105963
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226105963
  • ASIN: 0226105962
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #908,013 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Well known are the rambling rose and its literary equivalent--the rambling gardening book. Both are venerable genres that cover a lot of ground, and horticulturalist/writer Christopher's brief account of his journeys searching out the hardy yet subtle shrubs classified as "old roses" provides many satisfactions. A reader learns that "Autumn Damask," which has its legendary roots in Damascus, may be the most fragrant of all roses; and that the Chinese "Gigantea" boasts canes as long as 50 feet, while those of "Rosa Rouletii" reach only six inches. Chapters, organized loosely around the author's visits with old-rose aficionados, include some satisfyingly tall tales, particularly of his jaunts with Texan rose "rustlers" who travel, caravan-style, to find and take clippings of plants growing by abandoned houses or in graveyards. Christopher's knowhow can explain why the rustlers soak their cuttings in water in which they have previously soaked willow chips: willow hormones promote rooting. Illustrations not seen by PW. Garden Book Club alternate.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This highly readable account is the story of one man's quest for the old-fashioned roses, fragrant and beautiful flowers largely forgotten following the introduction of tea roses in 1867. The author recounts his explorations through backyards, cemeteries, abandoned gold rush towns of America, and old gardens of Europe, describing the roses he found and the dedicated specialists he met along the way. By one estimate, only several hundred of the originally thousands of old rose cultivars still exist. These roses' wealth of form, color, fragrance, and habit made each unique; the same cannot be said of the new, uniform varieties. This is a welcome record of the efforts of the few who are preserving this agricultural legacy.
- Annette Aiello, Smithsonian Tropical Research Inst., Panama
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Glad I finally took it down.
Michele Kingery
Being a rose enthusiast and a student of history, I found this book fascinating.
Rich Parker
Anyone who collects old roses will enjoy this book.
Joanne

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By _willow_11_ on March 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover
There are few books in my gardening library so excellent I buy extra copies; miserly dealt out only to The Worthy. One of them is In Search Of Lost Roses.

In Search Of Lost Roses is a romp. A detective story. We are outlaws. We skulk through forgotten cemeteries. We drive old dirt roads. We meet eccentric old folks over garden gates, guardian angels of roses whose scent we will remember all our lives; things foreign to hybridizers in white lab coats.

I defy you to read this book and ~not~ acquire at least one of the old roses lauded within. My first choice was 'Aimee Vibert', a climbing noisette from 1828. England and France have an ancient horticultural feud. French nurseryman J.P. Vibert named his fragrant white masterpiece after his daughter. (As an aside: hunt plants with a woman's name. Only the best plants were named after wives, daughters, and mistresses.) Vibert said of his delicate climber "The English when they see her will go down on their knees." As I did and still do. For the three weeks she blooms on the arbor she is the goddess of the garden. She has a magnetizing effect on garden visitors and I tell them the story and say the punchline in my Inspector Clouseau accent. It is a testament to Mlle. Vibert that 200 years later she is still enchanting, passed down gardener to gardener. I never would have known her without In Search Of Lost Roses.

You will never forget this book. But buy it for the rose rustler's cutting recipe alone, if you will. With it I rooted cuttings from a fragrant and summer-long unknown in an ancient cemetery (I gave her the name of the lady she was planted over) after two years of trying other methods. And buy two. Perhaps someone you know is worthy. 5 Stars for Mr. Christopher.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Tim Warneka on May 2, 2003
Format: Paperback
For me, Gardening is about feeding my soul with beauty. If you are weary from reading the countless "how-to" gardening books that fill the shelves of the bookstore, then I would highly recommend this book.
Did you know that public parks evolved historically from cemeteries? Read this book to find out more.
And, no doubt, as other reviewers have noted, you will go out and find yourself one of these roses after reading their story.
Great book! :-)
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By P. Lozar on September 23, 2003
Format: Paperback
My family has a long-standing love affair with roses: a "Belle of Portugal" that my grandmother planted in the 1920's has been passed down through several generations. So I found this book utterly delightful, full of fascinating anecdotes about old varieties of roses, the characters who developed and distributed them, and the even wilder characters who "rustle" and propagate old roses with passion and gusto today. The chapters are thematic and geographical, rather than historical, but they're immensely fun to read. I learned all sorts of amazing historical trivia -- e.g., why the Grass Valley, CA public library owns a Cornish/English dictionary, and the political aspects of rose nomenclature. And, as someone interested in "heirloom" plants in general (I'm a card-carrying member of Slow Food), I found his discussion of rose genetics and propagation fascinating. Some of his stories are poignant, too -- e.g., the elderly black women in rural Texas who propagated roses over the centuries from sheer love, but were dying out even as he wrote. I enjoyed the book thoroughly, and recommend it even if you're not an old rose buff.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By "jem@vaughncpa.com" on September 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book was an interesting compendium of the experiences of the author in looking for and finding old roses. He gives insight into the background of roses, where to find them and practical knowledge of the collecting. I do think it is a scientific work or an index, rather an interesting read about how he approached collecting old roses and what made them interesting to him. I enjoyed it!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Sammy Madison on March 8, 2006
Format: Paperback
The first book I remember from my childhood is The Tasha Tudor Book of Fairy Tales. Tasha Tudor's illustrations always include garlands of roses, and I always knew I was going to have a garden absolutely full of roses. As a young adult, I was disillusioned with the modern hybrids that were available at that time. They looked stiff and unlovely in the garden, they had little fragrance, and they fell prey to black spot and the cold northern climate. After spending huge amounts of time, effort, and money, I had given up on roses. Then, in the odd way things happen, I came upon this book in the return shelf at the library. I started reading it, and finally realized what was wrong in my experience with roses. The ideal rose in my imagination was a historic rose, not a modern hybrid tea! Thomas Christopher, even though he was a horticulturist, made the same discovery though serendipity. It is really fun to read how he discovered the world of heirloom roses and the people who grow them. You will find yourself enjoying this book while reading it, and then realizing later how much you learned from it. The book led to my gardening with old roses, and later, David Austin Roses, which are everything I ever hoped for in roses. If you want to read more about the history of the rose, another very interesting book on the subject is The Quest for the Rose by Phillips and Rix.
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