The flower-growing regions south of San Francisco are the backdrop for the story of Giacomo Daneri who had come from Italy to rise to expert orchidist and famous nurseryman and who in his 75th year knew heartbreak through his family and his flowers. His two sons dead, his daughter married to a banker of New England restraint, Giacomo's hopes were for his granddaughter, Tosca, but his empire only indulged her whims and shamed her before socialite playboy, Mark Cantrell. And from within his greenhouses Giacomo was threatened by Stoob, his illy master, whose vicious resentment of Giacomo's love for orchids resulted in his forcing his daughter, Ludmilla, to drive out Eric, who was Giacomo's choice for a son-in-law. The general strike of 1914, Tosca's engagement to Mark and Ludmilla's wanton destruction of the greenhouses write an end to Giacomo's life and return Tosca to the flowers and Eric. There is knowledgeable detail of a local industry here and the facts of flower breeding have their own fascination -- but conscientiousness is not necessarily compelling, nor yet enough.