This post is about a truly beautiful book, and if you’re a fan of David Austin’s roses you’re going to want to read this!
But first – an intro to my Garden Book Club! Something a millennial thought she would never say. Lol.
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So, I guess David Austin’s English Roses is the start of something new here on a prettier petal – the prettier petal book club! Maybe I should call it Rosarian Reads or something, anyhow, I’ve always loved the idea of joining a (or even having my own) book club, but a couple of things held me back.
One, I’m fussy with books, and so I know I’d probably have to read ten or more books I didn’t love to be able to find one I did!
I sooooo don’t have the time for that, I’m a busy mama with multiple businesses always on the go! So I thought I’d start my own little planty and green book club right here in my cosy little corner of the internet world where nobody’s watching, lol.
I’m basically sharing everything I’m ordering for myself, as a complete newbie to the world of plants, growing things, gardens and of course, with the ultimate goal of breeding a rose. (Read the story here if we haven’t ‘met’ yet).
So if like me, you kill even the easiest of plants to maintain and look after (true story; my dog ate my succulent)
but yet you still have that kinda medicine woman / weird herbal tea collector / lover of beautiful planty crafts and artwork and books even if you know you’ll maybe never actually do anything with them except add them to the pile of books kinda vibe –
You’ll be right at home here. This book club is all things planty, pretty, apothecary, rose-loving and welcoming not just of the new planty hipster-style books, but the old, forgotten, gorgeous ones too.
David Austin’s English Roses – A Book Review!
Why I Choose This Book
So, I had to start with this one really didn’t I? being English and seeing as this site is mainly about roses for now!
When I lived back in the UK and beautiful England, my next door neighbour and friend just happened to be doing her floristry course and setting up her floristry business, and she had this incredibly beautiful rambling pink rose that climbed up and outwards over a trellis in her back garden.
It was sooo beautiful, and I dreamed of having that one day, and she told me it was a David Austin rose.
That was my first introduction to David Austin’s roses, and I didn’t do anything more with that information back then.
I was too wrapped up in newborn baby bliss and running my own businesses to think about doing anything with the garden of the rental property we lived in, cute though it was. (Cute in the UK is often code for ‘tiny’. We lived in a Victorian era terraced house. Gorgeous, packed with character and I adored that house- but it was soooo small)!
In fact (whisper) I wasn’t sure I even liked roses. Funny how things change 😉 but like I said, that story is over on the about me page!
Now, I most definitely DO like roses, but I do even now still have preferences. I’m much more partial to English roses than I am tea roses and more modern roses – though I can just about tolerate hybrid tea roses.
Don’t worry if you have no idea what I’m talking about, I didn’t either up until a few short weeks ago. Right up until the time this book was delivered!
So, why this book? I knew I wanted to learn about roses, and what better place to learn than one of the world’s top rose breeders?
Also, this book seemed relatively ‘beginner friendly’ despite the prestigious author, AND it was the 1993 edition, and I have a thing for old books!
So, I clicked purchase, and a few days later the very first addition to the Rosy Reads bookclub arrived!
I was wowed by the cover of this book. It was exactly what my rosy-longing heart had been wanting! Lusturous, big, full blooming roses all over the front cover. No old, dusty, heavy thing here (even though it does have a good substantial weight to it).
It just looked classic but kind of vintage at the same time. I was so excited to look inside!
Inside The Book
I was not disappointed. Initially I was expecting a kind of dull and boring book, but I was taken on a journey throughout the history of roses and how we came to know our current rose styles.
Did you know that we have lost thousands of rose species to extinction? 🙁
There was so much detail in this book, but never enough that I felt overwhelmed or like I didn’t know what the author was talking about. I loved every minute I spent reading it.
If you’re expecting beautiful flowery descriptions and a more ‘story’ like narrative, you will be disappointed here – there’s no story of the first person who introduced roses, what roses were loved most by particular historic figures and so on. Basically – there is little drama or intrigue, so don’t buy this book if that’s what you want.
This is a very straight up ‘fact’ book, with no embellishment or fantasy at all. Which is kind of shame, as I love to know the people behind the roses and their history…
However, it’s such a beautiful and well-thought out book I didn’t miss those elements at all. The photography is SOOO beautiful, and most likely shot on film, giving the images the richness and depth I still have yet to see in more modern ‘flower’ and garden books.
If you’re an expert rose grower and enthusiast, you might find you are missing extensive detail, but overall I think everyone will gain something from this book.
I’m referring back to it and re-reading it over and over!
Surprises Inside The Book
Most surprising to me were chapters on fragrance, garden design, and flower arranging in the home. I know it all kind of seems common sense that those things should be included, but I just didn’t expect them to be! I thought it would be more like a ‘gardening book’, I suppose, but it actually felt like the book introduces you to a whole new world… especially if you’re new to growing or loving roses.
Who Is This Book For?
If you’re looking for an ultimate gardener’s bible, this isn’t it. The book also doesn’t include some of the later varieties grown and made popular by the author. The tips are hugely valuable. (Did you know when you cut roses, to put them up to their blooms in water? No more half-full vases for me)!
And the information beyond interesting. But the best thing about this book for me is that’s in an overview of roses in general. It’s not meant to be a fully-inclusive guide into David Austin roses in particular; instead it’s a fascinating and in-depth journey into a new world.
If you’re already a gardening expert and not interested in the above, I don’t think you’re going to gain anything ‘extra’ here-
Likewise, if you only want step by step instructions, you’re also not likely to find what you need in this book.
If you want to be further seduced by and entranced by roses; and / or you love beautiful flower photography and illustration; if you want an overview of how to breed, plant, and grow roses, you’re going to adore this book just as much as I do.
Best Part About The Book
Well, I loved the detail David Austin goes into which is perfect for a newcomer Rosarian like me! But – CAN I JUST MENTION THE PHOTOGRAPHY HERE FOR A SECOND!!!
Yes, totally worth shouting about! All images are by Clay Perry, and I kind of frequently finding myself wondering if I should rip out the pages to stick them on my numerous vision boards / art inspo wall / in frames around the house. (Don’t worry, book lovers. They’re just thoughts… for now 😉 )
Beautiful, just like this book. I’m now on a mission to acquire all the David Austin books, although as the first one in my collection, this one will always be special to me!
I entirely credit it for turning this plant-loving millennial with only a tiny space for growing into an amateur rosarian.
Get the book, here! It turns out it’s quite rare and difficult to find in print, Amazon has a few copies from various sellers but otherwise, you might want to try antique booksellers or second hand book sellers. It makes a beautiful gift for Mother’s day, Easter, or for any garden lover.
I’ve decided to call this book club ‘Rosy Reads’, for books that give you a happier, rosier life! 🙂 Of course you’ll find the best rose books, but also a ton on gardening, plant life, and apothecary info in general – as well as the odd find on living a happier, creative, more magical life. I hope you enjoy – click the tag ‘rosy reads’ to find all the posts in this series!
all images from David Austin’s English Roses, 1993 Edition