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Flower Confidential: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful in the Business of Flowers Hardcover – Bargain Price, January 4, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Stewart, an avid gardener and winner of the 2005 California Horticultural Society's Writer's Award for her book The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms, now tackles the global flower industry. Her investigations take her from an eccentric lily breeder to an Australian business with the alchemical mission of creating a blue rose. She visits a romantically anachronistic violet grower, the largest remaining California grower of cut flowers and a Dutch breeder employing high-tech methods to develop flowers in equatorial countries where wages are low. Stewart follows a rose from the remote Ecuadoran greenhouse where it's grown to the American retailer where it's finally sold, and visits a huge, stock –exchange–like Dutch flower auction. These present-day adventures are interspersed with fascinating histories of the various aspects of flower culture, propagation and commerce. Stewart's floral romanticism—she admits early on that she's "always had a generalized, smutty sort of lust for flowers"—survives the potentially disillusioning revelations of the flower biz, though her passion only falters a few times, as when she witnesses roses being dipped in fungicide in preparation for export. By the end, this book is as lush as the flowers it describes. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the CD-ROM edition.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Amy Stewart's previous books, the award-winning The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms and From the Ground Up: The Story of a First Garden (see below), testify to the author's fascination with dirtying her hands. The well-researched and exuberantly written Flower Confidential reveals her passion and her eye for the interesting statistic (Americans buy some 10 million cut flowers a day). Stewart does an admirable job of making sense of a complicated business, even if a lack of illustrations might be limiting. Nevertheless (and above all), the book adeptly celebrates the incomparable beauty embodied in Stewart's subjectand "may compel us to return to something purer, more local" (Washington Post).
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to the CD-ROM edition.
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Top customer reviews
If you are looking for advice on PLS 06, you can really pass the class without ever opening the book if you are a good test taker. I wouldn't advise doing this, because without this book you really won't learn much besides Prof. Lieth's lectures. I'd recommend going ahead of the class schedule for reading chapters and just knock out this whole book in a few sittings. Amy Stewart has good flow and it never really felt like she dragged on. It's nice that Prof. Lieth chose this book as opposed to a textbook, because it reads like a story.
But she also digs deep, traveling to Ecuador, to massive flower auctions in Holland, to an upscale New York florist shop, an airport warehouse in Miami that functions as the main receiving center for Central and South American cut flowers, to California fields and flower carts and shops that inscribe words on the edges of rose petals. She plumbs through the history of the Star Gazer lily, turning a flower into a multi-generational story of its eccentric creator and the families that made it famous. She describes being towered over by roses with natural six-foot stems and seeing roses sunk into buckets of fumigants and flowers soaked in buckets of dye.
As she does so, Stewart moves between big picture and precise detail so fluidly that Flower Confidential tucks all its education seamlessly into a rollicking tale. Well, as rollicking as flowers get, anyway. And to read Stewart, that's pretty rollicking indeed. For all the industrialization of the floral industry, as well as the problems that tend to come with industrialization (pollution, safety problems, dreary and repetitive work, the slow replacement of craftsmen by drones and artistry by undistinguished quality), for all her revelations of how unglamorously things often work behind the scenes, Stewart is forever being caught in the net of some flower's beauty, whether exquisite new hybrid or richly scented heirloom, spotted in high places or low, embroiling herself in what a flower means or should mean. She is candidly, unbashedly, perpetually vulnerable to being transported by their glory.
A full-fledged subscriber to the idea of the symbolism and necessity of gifting, flowers mean more to her than they ever could to me. To her they are the gift that there is always room for in the spirit -- and on Valentine's Day, you'd better not be late!
I can't say I'll ever believe in the importance of flowers the way Stewart does. In the near necessity of their specific kind of physical beauty, close at hand, in a well-lived life. But I have started growing lobellias and marigolds and nasturtiums and petunias and veronicas in the garden, and am learning little by little. The bees and moths and other pollinators love them. And for goodness sake, Amy sure loves them! I've tended to think of them as a fussy bit of clutter. But I'm becoming fond of them. If you're not there yet or on your way, Flower Confidential will do its darnedest to get you going, and is so wide-ranging and well-written that you're sure to enjoy the journey.
I knew large greenhouses existed, but the exact science, the exact control to produce the most perfect flowers available is something I was ignorant of. I also assumed that the flowers I buy in the grocery store were flowers as nature created them, not scientifically created perfections-upon-nature. It's truly astonishing the time, energy, and money that is funneled into what are simply flowers, but actually quite an economic powerhouse.
While it may be easy to condemn these greenhouse freaks of nature, the author shows us they are just as beautiful, stunning, fragile, and glorious as the wildflowers in the field.
I learned a lot from this book, but even more, I gained an immense appreciation of the flower industry and the travels and travails of every single cut flower stem that will enter into my life. Highly recommended.