Women in my Rose Garden: The History, Romance and Adventure of Old Roses
Reviewed by Sue Zwar, SA as published in the Australian Heritage Rose Association Journal, Winter 2012
Ann Chapman, Hardie Grant Books, 2012 (Hardback, 175pp, 69 colour photos $30.
www.palazzoeditions.com, or Fishpond
From the dust jacket of this beautiful book to the last page depicting Ghislaine de Féligonde and the part she played in French history, Ann Chapman's book exudes a magical and romantic atmosphere because of the historical scenes she depicts, the paintings of the women described, and still-life photographs of each namesake rose.
History comes to life in Ann's succinct yet detailed descriptions of 34 women, all important historically, from such tragic tales as those of Félicité and Perpétue Jacques and Maria Teresa, Princesse de Lamballé, to the more modern figures of Constance Spry and Nancy Steen. Immediately following each description comes and outline of the rose itself, its breeder and why he may have chosen such a name. Ann has obviously had personal experience growing all the roses she describes, as she mentions how they behave in her garden and those she couldn't live without, such as 'Mme de Sombreuil and Duchesse de Montebello. She compares the rose and its growth to that of its namesake, thus strenghtening the bond between the two. So Vibert chose the name Anaïs Ségalas for "a tough endearing rose, to remember a tough endearing woman", and Mary Queen of Scots, traditionally thought to have been brought to Scotland by Queen Mary herself, is "as tough as its namesake and spreads freely through our brick patio".
The author, Ann Chapman, lives near Wellington in New Zealand, and twenty-five years ago she and her husband, Lloyd, began planting roses on a bare 4ha block which developed into Trinity Farm, a beautiful garden and heritage rose nursery. Over 125 roses named after women grew in the garden, and their evocative names were the starting point of Ann's research, which has resulted in this enchanting book. Although Ann and Lloyd have now retired into Otaki, they have brought their favourite roses with them and so there are still many women inspiring Ann in her town garden.
Women in my Rose Garden is already in its second printing. It represents exceptional value, especially considering the excellent quality of the rose photographs, all taken by Paul Starosta, and the portraits of each of the named women. Women in my Rose Garden will be available for sale at the Conference this November.
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