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Few flowers have quite the same allure or as significant a place in history as the rose. A symbol of love, power, royalty, beauty, and joy, the rose has played many roles, both literal and symbolic, in poetry, art, literature, music, fashion, medicine, perfume, decoration, cuisine, and more.
In this beautifully illustrated guide, award-winning horticulturist Peter E. Kukielski and his coauthor, Charles Phillips, tell the fascinating and many-layered history of this “queen of flowers.” The book explores many stories from the long association of roses with human societies, from their first cultivation—likely in China some five thousand years ago—to their modern genetic cultivars. It shows how roses have been prominent across time and many cultures, including ancient Greece and Rome, Christianity, Islam, and Sufism.
The book, with more than 140 color illustrations, offers a unique look at the essential contributions that roses have made throughout human history.
“The authors present the most comprehensive exploration of the evolution, development, impact and importance of roses from antiquity to present times that I have ever found.”—Gaye Hammond, Past President of the Houston Rose Society
“Rosa emphasizes the wonder of the rose by tracing the many ways it has shaped cultures around the world. It is wonderfully and richly illustrated.”—Michael Marriott, Senior Rosarian at David Austin Roses, and Rose Garden Designer
“Rich in fascinating cultural history, Rosa takes us on a joyous visual romp through the stories and symbolism of the most iconic of all garden flowers.”—Peter Crane, author of Ginkgo: The Tree that Time Forgot
A conversation with the authors:
Why are roses your passion?
Surrounding myself in beauty was an early goal. My grandmother introduced me to roses, and experience with them allowed me to shape a career. Mary Oliver’s poem "The Poet Visits the Museum of Fine Arts," in which she eloquently describes the rose as resilient and willing "to give something, from its small self, to the entirety of the world," inspires me. I want to be a student/teacher of this message.
Which variety of rose captivates you most?
My platform has been promotion of disease-resistant varieties of roses and gardens with roses that are chemical-free. Varieties ranging from old roses that have a proven propensity toward resilience to new modern ones specifically hybridized toward disease resistance have enthralled me. They offer the strength and beauty of the rose garden without harmful chemicals.
What advice would you offer someone who is just starting to grow a rosebush?
Plant a rose, and learn! Choose a variety appropriate for where you live. Local experts can steer you in the right direction. Be careful; if you grow one, you might end up growing lots!
What do you hope readers will learn from reading Rosa?
I want readers to appreciate the longevity, stories, symbolism, and joy of roses. The rose has existed for 35 million years—a fact of which few are aware. Readers will learn about roses through history, see the various lands from which they came, and understand their essential contributions. Roses are present in archaeological studies, myths, and ancient cultures. They have roles in religion, love stories, poetry, literature, and wars. The rose influences art and architecture and shapes fragrances and medicine. We decorate our altars, celebrations, parades, and final resting places with roses. We present roses to those we love. Few other plants can touch the generations from children to grandparents.