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.)
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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.