An engaging mix of botany, history and commerce highlighted by profiles of flower mavens and close-ups of rare flowers.
Stewart, a flower lover and horticultural writer (The Earth Moved, 2003, etc.), traveled the world for a year to research the $40 billion dollar cut-flower industry. On the road, she spends time with a third-generation California violet grower, who still does things the old-fashioned way; with the CEO of the largest producer of cut flowers in the United States; and with a Dutch flower breeder and grower whose high-tech operation, run with Polish immigrant labor, is producing flowers in novel colors and shapes. She visits the huge Dutch flower auction in Alsmeer, through which flows half of the world’s cut flower production, and the world-famous Ecuadorean floriculture trade show outside Quito. Interspersed are profiles of the breeder of the popular Stargazer lily and of the proprietor of a tiny retail flower shop in Santa Cruz, as well as mini-essays on flower anatomy (with line drawings), propagation techniques and the dipping and dyeing of flowers. Appendices provide how-to information on cut-flower care and statistics on flower commerce. The author also raises environmental issues related to the trade, as well as the concerns of florists.
Stewart writes with humor and insight about real people, entertaining as she informs.