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Flower Confidential: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful in the Business of Flowers

by

Flower Confidential: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful in the Business of Flowers Cover

 

Staff Pick

The magic of a great writer is that she can elevate any topic to fascinating status. In Flower Confidential, Amy Stewart uses equal parts journalism and florid writing to illuminate the machinal underpinnings of the flower industry. From the grail-like pursuit of a cultivated blue rose, to the factory settings of the major cut flower producers, Flower Confidential gave me new appreciation for a bouquet and a lovely evening of reading.
Recommended by Lorraine, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

We buy more flowers a year than we do Big Macs, spending $6.2 billion annually. We use them to mark our most important events, to express sentiments that might otherwise go unsaid. And we demand perfection. So it's no surprise that there is a $40 billion global industry devoted to making flowers flawless.

Amy Stewart takes us inside the flower trade — from the hybridizers, who create new varieties in the laboratory, to the growers, who produce flowers by the millions (often in a factory-like setting), to the Dutch auctioneers, who set the bar (and the price), and ultimately to the neighborhood florists orchestrating the mind-boggling demands of Valentine's and Mother's Day. There's the breeder intent on developing the first blue rose; an eccentric horticultural legend who created the world's most popular lily; a grower of gerberas of every color imaginable; and the equivalent of a Tiffany diamond: the "Forever Young" rose.

Stewart explores the relevance of flowers in our lives and in our history, and in the process she reveals all that has been gained — and lost — by tinkering with nature.

Review:

"An engaging mix of botany, history and commerce....Stewart writes with humor and insight, entertaining as she informs." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"This engaging exploration won't make you feel guilty about buying a bouquet, but it will make you much more informed — and intrigued — by where it came from." BUST

Review:

"...Stewart captures all this with wit and elegance that, by book's end, will have the most cantankerous capitalist thinking differently about a product 'bred more for its suitability as freight than for any of its more refined qualities — delicacy, grace, fragrance.'" Fast Company

Review:

"A potent medium of quirky wit, incisive reporting and occasionally breathtaking prose... Flower Confidential is a page-turner." Bookpage

Review:

"As candid as she is circumspect, Stewart combines a romantic's idealism with a journalist's objectivity in this tantalizing expose." Booklist

Review:

"Stewart provides the reader with a well-rounded perspective of the flower industry." Library Journal

Synopsis:

The flower business is a $40 billion global industry devoted to making flowers flawless. Stewart explores the relevance of flowers in our lives and in our history, and in the process she reveals all that has been gained — and lost — by tinkering with nature.

Synopsis:

Award-winning author Amy Stewart takes readers on an around-the-world, behind-the-scenes look at the flower industry and how it has sought—for better or worse—to achieve perfection. She tracks down the hybridizers, geneticists, farmers, and florists working to invent, manufacture, and sell flowers that are bigger, brighter, and sturdier than anything nature can provide. There's a scientist intent on developing the first genetically modified blue rose; an eccentric horitcultural legend who created the most popular lily; a breeder of gerberas of every color imaginable; and an Ecuadorean farmer growing exquisite roses, the floral equivalent of a Tiffany diamond. And, at every turn she discovers the startling intersection of nature and technology, of sentiment and commerce.

Synopsis:

A globe-trotting, behind-the-scenes look at the dazzling world of flowers and the fascinating industry it's created.

It might be unromantic to call a flower a commodity or a manufactured product, but flowers are both. They've become big business—created in laboratories, bred in test tubes, grown in factories, harvested by machines, packed into boxes, sold at auctions, and then flown across oceans and continents to your supermarket or local florist. Amy Stewart tracks down the hybridizers, geneticists, growers, and vendors working to invent, manufacture, and sell flowers that are bigger, brighter, and sturdier than anything nature can provide. From big agribusiness to local farming, from Europe to Latin America, Flower Confidential explores the intersection of nature and technology, of sentiment and commerce.

Video

About the Author

Amy Stewart's last book, The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms, won the California Horticultural Society's Writer's Award for 2005, was a featured selection of the Discovery Channel Book Club, and was named a Best Book of the Year by the San Jose Mercury News. Her articles appear regularly in Organic Gardening and the San Francisco Chronicle. The recipient of a 2006 National Endowment of the Arts for Literature Fellowship, Stewart lives in northern California.

Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction 1

Part 1 Breeding
1 The Birds, the Bees, and a Camel Hair Brush 15
2 Engineered to Perfection 40

Part 2 Growing
3 Italian Violets and Japanese Chrysanthemums 61
4 Acres under Glass 77
5 How the Dutch Conquered the World 106
6 Flowers on the Equator 137

Part 3 Selling
7 Forbidden Flowers 173
8 The Dutch Auction 209
9 Florists, Supermarkets, and the Next Big Thing 237

Epilogue: Valentine's Day 271
The Care and Feeding of Cut Flowers 283
Visiting Markets and Growers 285
Statistics 289
Notes 293
Selected Bibliography 303

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

titianlibrarian, December 15, 2007 (view all comments by titianlibrarian)
I was moving this book from the new shelf to the regular stacks this morning, and I wanted to put a few lines in about just how fascinating this book is before it's lost in the 338 section. The subtitle of the book is "The good, the bad, and the beautiful in the business of flowers"--heady stuff. She divides the book into three parts: Breeding, Growing and Selling. For example, the chapters on breeding cover the ways that flowers are genetically manipulated for scent, color, lasting power, and Stewart finds and interviews the family of the eccentric grower who developed the 'Star Gazer' Lily. In all likelihood, the only pink lilies you've ever seen were 'Star Gazers.' The book itself reads almost like a documentary--she's superb at setting the scene, describing the flower auction warehouse in Amsterdam with all the details that give you the sense that she has all the camera angles mapped out should PBS ever give this the green light. With all the characters and exotic locales, there is enough action to keep you page-turning in a subject most would not expect to find so enthralling.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(8 of 12 readers found this comment helpful)
laubenthalsandra, October 19, 2006 (view all comments by laubenthalsandra)
To me as a flower professional in the rose business, which Amy Stewart writes a lot about in her new book, this was a fascinating read. I am impressed with how much she was able to learn and how down to earth (ha ha) her information is. Our company, Peterkort Roses, is the last remaining cut flower rose grower in the Pacific Northwest, so the story she tells is what we have been living since our company began (1923). With the entry of the cheap imports, everything has changed and she really covers this fascinating saga!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(39 of 57 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 2 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9781565124387
Subtitle:
The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful
Author:
Stewart, Amy
Publisher:
Algonquin Books
Subject:
Flowers
Subject:
History
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Industries - General
Subject:
Cut flower industry - United States - History
Subject:
Cut flower industry - History
Subject:
Plants - Flowers
Subject:
Business Writing
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20080318
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
8.74x5.88x1.15 in. 1.13 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Business » General
Business » Management
Business » Writing
Home and Garden » Gardening » Flower Growing
Home and Garden » Gardening » History and Theory
Home and Garden » Gardening » Writing
Science and Mathematics » Botany » General
Science and Mathematics » Nature Studies » Wild Flowers General

Flower Confidential: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful in the Business of Flowers Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$8.95 In Stock
Product details 320 pages Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill - English 9781565124387 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

The magic of a great writer is that she can elevate any topic to fascinating status. In Flower Confidential, Amy Stewart uses equal parts journalism and florid writing to illuminate the machinal underpinnings of the flower industry. From the grail-like pursuit of a cultivated blue rose, to the factory settings of the major cut flower producers, Flower Confidential gave me new appreciation for a bouquet and a lovely evening of reading.

"Review" by , "An engaging mix of botany, history and commerce....Stewart writes with humor and insight, entertaining as she informs."
"Review" by , "This engaging exploration won't make you feel guilty about buying a bouquet, but it will make you much more informed — and intrigued — by where it came from."
"Review" by , "...Stewart captures all this with wit and elegance that, by book's end, will have the most cantankerous capitalist thinking differently about a product 'bred more for its suitability as freight than for any of its more refined qualities — delicacy, grace, fragrance.'"
"Review" by , "A potent medium of quirky wit, incisive reporting and occasionally breathtaking prose... Flower Confidential is a page-turner."
"Review" by , "As candid as she is circumspect, Stewart combines a romantic's idealism with a journalist's objectivity in this tantalizing expose."
"Review" by , "Stewart provides the reader with a well-rounded perspective of the flower industry."
"Synopsis" by , The flower business is a $40 billion global industry devoted to making flowers flawless. Stewart explores the relevance of flowers in our lives and in our history, and in the process she reveals all that has been gained — and lost — by tinkering with nature.
"Synopsis" by , Award-winning author Amy Stewart takes readers on an around-the-world, behind-the-scenes look at the flower industry and how it has sought—for better or worse—to achieve perfection. She tracks down the hybridizers, geneticists, farmers, and florists working to invent, manufacture, and sell flowers that are bigger, brighter, and sturdier than anything nature can provide. There's a scientist intent on developing the first genetically modified blue rose; an eccentric horitcultural legend who created the most popular lily; a breeder of gerberas of every color imaginable; and an Ecuadorean farmer growing exquisite roses, the floral equivalent of a Tiffany diamond. And, at every turn she discovers the startling intersection of nature and technology, of sentiment and commerce.
"Synopsis" by , A globe-trotting, behind-the-scenes look at the dazzling world of flowers and the fascinating industry it's created.

It might be unromantic to call a flower a commodity or a manufactured product, but flowers are both. They've become big business—created in laboratories, bred in test tubes, grown in factories, harvested by machines, packed into boxes, sold at auctions, and then flown across oceans and continents to your supermarket or local florist. Amy Stewart tracks down the hybridizers, geneticists, growers, and vendors working to invent, manufacture, and sell flowers that are bigger, brighter, and sturdier than anything nature can provide. From big agribusiness to local farming, from Europe to Latin America, Flower Confidential explores the intersection of nature and technology, of sentiment and commerce.

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