The Rose Rustlers
In The Rose Rustlers, Greg Grant and William C. Welch offer a personal, in-depth, and entertaining account of some of the great stories gathered during their years as participants in one of the most important plant-hunting efforts of the twentieth century—the quest to save antique roses that disappeared from the market in a notoriously trend-driven business. By the 1950s, almost exclusively, modern roses (those with one compact bloom at the top of a large stem) were grown for the cut-flower market. The large rounded shrubs and billowy fence climbers known to our grandparents and great-grandparents in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries had been reduced to this rather monotonous single style of plant. Yet those roses of old still grew, tough and persistent, in farmyards, cemeteries, vacant lots, and abandoned fields. The rediscovery of these antiques and the subsequent movement to conserve them became the mission of “rose rustlers,” dedicated rosarians who studied, sought, cut, and cultivated these hardy survivors. Here, the authors chronicle their own origins, adventures, and discoveries as part of a group dubbed the Texas Rose Rustlers. They present tales of the many efforts that have helped restore lost roses not only to residential gardens, but also to commercial and church landscapes in Texas. Their experiences and friendships with other figures in the heirloom rose world bring an insider’s perspective to the lore of “rustling,” the art of propagation, and the continued fascination with the world’s favorite flower.
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