The Rose by Jennifer Potter
This vividly written and lavishly illustrated book challenges many cherished beliefs about the rose. It looks set to establish itself as the definitive history of the Queen of Flowers.
Ever since Sappho planted roses at the shrine of Aphrodite, no flower has captured the imagination in quite the same way. Wherever it has grown, human beings have projected on to it their dreams and aspirations. Celebrated as a sacred symbol and as a token of womanhood, the rose unites Venus with the Virgin Mary, the blood of Christ with the sweat of Muhammad, the sacred and the profane, life and death, the white rose of chastity and the red rose of consummation.
In The Rose, the acclaimed horticultural historian Jennifer Potter shows what, exactly, gives this most fragrant flower its potency in societies around the world. Beginning her story in the Greek and Roman empires, she travels across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the Americas to unravel its evolution from a simple briar of the northern hemisphere to the height of cultivated perfection found in rose gardens today. Whether laying bare the flower's long association with sexuality and secret societies, questioning the Crusaders' role in bringing roses back from the Holy Land, or hunting for its elusive blooms in the gardens of the Empress Josephine at Malmaison, Jennifer Potter reveals why this flower, above all others, has provoked such fascination.
'Lavish, lushly illustrated... This ambitious book is richly kaleidoscopic without being bewildering, and Potter has succeeded in uncovering just why the rose has insinuated itself so tenaciously into the consciousness of every age and corner of the world.' Kate Colquhoun, Sunday Times
Lavishly filled with beautiful paintings from the whole span of Western history... A fascinating story... a seductive pedigree beast.' The Times '
Truly sumptuous... Beautiful... This handsome volume plays to Jennifer Potter's strengths as a historian... A magnificent, wide-ranging study... A generous and impressive present. It is the finest disquisition published thus far on the early history and symbolism of the rose.' Daily Telegraph