Award-winning author Amy Stewart takes readers on an around-the-world, behind-the-scenes look at the flower industry and how it has sought—for better or worse—to achieve perfection. She tracks down the hybridizers, geneticists, farmers, and florists working to invent, manufacture, and sell flowers that are bigger, brighter, and sturdier than anything nature can provide. There’s a scientist intent on developing the first genetically modified blue rose; an eccentric horitcultural legend who created the most popular lily; a breeder of gerberas of every color imaginable; and an Ecuadorean farmer growing exquisite roses, the floral equivalent of a Tiffany diamond. And, at every turn she discovers the startling intersection of nature and technology, of sentiment and commerce.
meet the author
Amy Stewart is the award-winning author of six books on the perils and pleasures of the natural world. She is the cofounder of the popular blog Garden Rant and is a contributing editor at Fine Gardening magazine. She and her husband live in Eureka, California, where they own an antiquarian bookstore called Eureka Books.
"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.)"--Publishers Weekly
"Along with the making of sausage and politics, flowers can now be added to the list of commodities that it's best to look upon from afar. Who knew floriculture--the big business behind those little blossoms--could be sabotaged by internecine skirmishes, sullied by sexual harassment, and contaminated by industrial pollution? Yet there's good news, too: organic growers as concerned with the welfare of their workers as they are with the health of the environment, and innovative local entrepreneurs providing creative alternatives to impersonal toll-free ordering hotlines. From the Netherlands to Ecuador, Stewart traveled the world, tracking the scent of the hottest stories in a $40 billion per year international industry. What does it take to bring those three-for-$10 bouquets to Wal-Mart? Why don't roses smell like roses anymore? And if a blue rose can be produced, would anyone buy it? As candid as she is circumspect, Stewart combines a romantic's idealism with a journalist's objectivity in this tantalizing expose."--Booklist