he rose is the world's favourite flower – and always has been. It is the greatest floral symbol of love and romance the world over, and touches people's hearts at many points in their lives as the flower most often chosen to celebrate significant milestones – weddings, anniversaries, births and deaths. Rose traces the journey of the rose across the centuries, from battles to bouquets, charting its botanical, religious, literary and artistic history.
From Cleopatra's rose-petal-filled bed to Nijinsky's Spectre de la rose, from the highly prized attar of rose oil so beloved by the ancient Persians to top-brand perfume labels today, and from Shakespearean myths about the Wars of the Roses to the significance of Queen Elizabeth I's embroidered dresses, Rose encapsulates the story of what makes this botanical family so loved. Using historical, literary and botanical sources from the world's major rose-growing nations, with vibrant illustrations from across the centuries and tales of medieval best-sellers, nurserymen's rivalries and changing tastes in the flower bed, Rose will be a delight to read for both the gardener and non-gardener alike.
Introduction: The World’s Favourite Flower
1 The Classical Rose
2 A Rose without a Thorn
3 The Royal Rose
4 The Birth of the Modern Rose
5 ‘Peace’ and Propagation
6 From Rosarium to La Roseraie
7 The New Rose Garden
8 The Literary Rose
9 ‘Only a Rose . . .’
10 The Rose in Art and Decoration
11 Posies, Petals and Perfume
Appendix 1: The Rose Family and Its Groups
Appendix 2: Recipe
Associations and Websites
Catherine Horwood is a social historian specializing in horticultural history. She has published widely in the gardening press and her previous books include Gardening Women: Their Stories from 1600 to the Present (2010) and Potted History: The Story of Plants in the Home (2007).
"The rose has a fascinating history: archaeologists have found rose fossils which are 35 million years old. In this charming book, social historian Catherine Horwood traces the flower's religious, literary and artistic roots, right up to its present-day uses."
– Mail on Sunday
"You will pick up this book wondering what else there could possibly be to know about roses only to be captivated by a tapestry of deftly woven stories of the plants botanic, literary, cultural and artistic influence that I, at least, discovered for the first time [...] the book manages, in a succinct and engaging manner, to illuminate the breadth of the plant's influence. For gardeners who love roses this is a fascinating and enlightening book."
– Gardens Illustrated
"It is no surprise that the rose is the world's favourite flower and in her new book, simply called Rose, Catherine Horwood dances us through every aspect of its botanical, cultural and literary significance [...] It offers many interesting nuggets, too – not least that we should all add the European Rose Garden in Sangerhausen, Germany, to our bucket list, as it has 8,600 varieties. There's an enticing recipe for rose vodka, too."
– Country Living
"Rose is a well-researched and riveting history of the world's most popular flower. From the fossil record to the rose garden at the White House, this book takes the reader on an epic history of the rose in civilization from ancient times through the patent rules in contemporary times. Historical accounts are spellbinding and include the harrowing tale of the escape from Europe in the midst of a military invasion during WW II of a world-renowned hybrid tea rose, "Peace." The book properly attributes the important contribution of Josephine Bonaparte, whose appetite for roses and access to her husband's wealth and privilege prompted her to construct the world's greatest rose garden; her influence is still found in today's gardens. Medicinal uses, cultural importance, and the role of roses in medieval paintings are academically addressed but never difficult to comprehend. This is a small book that packs a huge punch regarding roses in human history. Recommended."
"The author takes a fresh perspective on the subject from historical and botanical contexts tempered by her own interactions with and knowledge of specific rose varieties, including many grown by herself [...] Horwood expertly organises the book into 11 chapters plus a useful timeline of rose history that should be engrained into every rosarian's mind. Beautifully written and riveting at times, Rose can be read cover to cover, section by section, or simply opened to find a historical vignette about roses. Throughout the book, a refreshing hint of femininity comes through to offer new insights into this otherwise over-done subject"
– The Quarterly Review of Biology
"Horwood tells us that, in 2017, viewers of the BBC Gardeners' World programme voted the rose as the most important and influential flower of the last 50 years. Having now read Catherine Horwood's engagingly-written, abundantly-illustrated, and extensively-researched social history of the plant, I can understand why."
– Botany One
"Catherine Horwood devotes her whole book to how the flower evolved, starting with fossilized roses millions of years old and ending with modern DNA research. She looks, of course, at botany but also at philosophy, literature and symbolism, painting, the perfume industry – even the White House Rose Garden [...] Like all the best books, her treatment of the great sweep of roser elated history leads the reader to make unexpected comparisons [...] Horwood's choice of illustration is as wide-ranging as her content [...] Rose is the latest in a series of excellent plant biographies published by Reaktion."
– Historic Gardens Review