Living With Roses
Book Review: Women in my Rose Garden by Ann Chapman
By Joyce Robins, Southland
As published in Heritage Roses NZ Journal, August 2012
Women in my Rose Garden is a wonderful book on Old Roses. The author has intertwined the history of roses with the history of the world - enriching my knowledge of both.
You can definitely judge this book by its cover: pleasantly romantic, old-fashioned, and beautiful to look at throughout. But it is unlike any other book on old roses I have seen. Ann has chosen roses named after women in history, for example Empress Josephine, Duchesse de Montebello, and Nancy Steen. For each rose she tells us about the woman, her life and achievements, the history of the rose named after them, and the rose's relationship to their namesake, and finally about the rose itself (breeder, breeding history, date introduced, and so on).
I enjoyed Ann's introduction, which gives a short insight into her interest in and experience with Old Roses over the years, including her nursery north of Wellington. She then explains how she selected the subjects, the women and the roses for the book. Ann gives interesting and relevant information on her very in-depth research and documentation (which was supported by her receiving the Heritage Roses New Zealand 2011/12 Research Scholarship). On a personal note, all the roses included in the book grow in her own garden. I am enjoying learning more history and interesting detail about the naming and history of a number of the roses I grow in my garden as well as roses I don't have but would very much like to.
The book is gorgeous to look at and the photographs reproduced to a very high quality throughout. This is not a book that gardeners would sit down and read cover-to-cover. Rather, it is one for leaving out on the coffee table to be read, understood and absorbed often in small, delightful chunks.
This would make a lovely gift - to someone else or to yourself!
Women in my Rose Garden is a book I thoroughly recommend. It has been a pleasure to have in my library of garden books. I enjoyed it and continue to do so regularly.
The book published by Hardie Grant Books, Melbourne and London and is available for purchase from good book shops.
A reader adds:
Are you looking for the perfect coffee table book?! Well I think I have found it! Feeling sad to have been on holiday and unable to attend the Otago visit and talk by Ann Chapman, I was more than compensated on viewing her amazing book Women in my Rose Garden, very aptly introduced as the History, Romance and Adventures of Old Roses. A quick trip to my local Paper Plus, and oh joy! Only six copies left and I have one!
This is the perfect book to pick up with a cuppa and read chapter at a time. As a relatively newcomer to the beauty of old roses, my interest has been greatly enhanced by reading about the origins of 34, tied in with the stories of courageous, tragic, and inspirational woman who have roses named after them.
To name a few of my favourites:
Jeanne d'Arc - An Alba with rich creamy buds, opening to white.
Amy Robsart - Sweet Briar Hybrid. Deep rose pink, large semi double.
Souvenir de la Princesse de Lambale (Bourbon) most often known as Bourbon Queen. Semi-double blooms of crinkled pink, enhanced by darker magenta veining.
The still life portraits and historical pictures of the time greatly add to this book's appeal.
The good news is, Women in my Rose Garden has been reprinted and hopefully if you haven't already, your coffee table will soon display this beautiful book.
Jill Hulme, Mosgiel
Find out more about Women in my Rose Garden