I have some roses and if you have a garden you probably have some roses too. But contrary to Gertrude Stein’s tautological formulation, a rose is not a rose, necessarily. There are roses and roses, and the rose we grow, or attempt to grow, has very little in common with the splendid specimens produced by, say, Nevado Ecuador for the cut flower market. That rose, which may well have a stem six feet long, a blossom the size of a peony, absolutely unblemished leaves with a faint shine, and perfectly spaced thorns, the very model of prickers, is an ultimate rose, a Platonic ideal of a rose, and, according to Gilding the Lily, will most likely end up in a vase in Russia belonging to one of the relatively few customers in the world able to afford it.
Before reading this book I was not aware that such roses existed, but then before she embarked on her exploration of the international cut flower business, Amy Stewart wasn’t either. Her bemused discovery, however, is only one of a large and thoroughly fascinating number of revelations about this