Most of the roses, featured in R is for Rose, gathered to make a lavish arrangement on a tiered cake plate.
THERE ARE MANY paths into this labor of love. Each of the 26 chapters is named for a different rose, A through Z, old, new, and with personal meaning. G, for GRAHAM THOMAS, was my starting place, as I had just read the author's account of her visit several years ago with Graham Stuart Thomas. Her description of that visit, prefaced by an outline of Mr. Thomas's career is a warm appreciation of the great rosarian. She has photographs of GRAHAM THOMAS in Mottisfont Abbey, where it is the only modern rose contrasting with photos taken in California where the rose grows quite large and can be trained as a climber. There's even a picture of Mr. Thomas himself.
Along the way through the book, Ms. Parker tells stories about the roses in her life, dispels confusion about rose names and varieties, discusses color, art, family, friends, and many other unexpected topics (such as Nijinsky dancing Spectre de la Rose with rose petals sewn to his tights), and treats readers to glorious photographs of bouquets and floral arrangements. Ms. Parker, who after a career as a fashion designer in New York returned to California and became an ardent rose gardener and floral designer, has created a book that is both beautiful and engrossing.
It was a relief to find the chapter on rose arrangements towards the end of the book, after admiring to the point of envy the lavish bouquets shown throughout. Illustrated instructions make such arrangements seem easy; a little floral foam, tape, frogs, vials, or a bit of ribbon can create impressively professional effects. I for one am going to pick up some floral foam and try this myself.
The floral foam understructure for the bouquet shown at the top of the page.