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Otherwise Normal People: Inside the Thorny World of Competitive Rose Gardeningby Aurelia Scott
Synopses & Reviews
Twice a year America's rose lovers cut the prettiest blossoms off their best plants and travel to the national rose show, where they lovingly groom their precious blooms for hours in a frigid hall in order to contend for the highest honor: the Queen of Show. Doctors. Teachers. Sheet metal mechanics. Lawyers. Truck drivers. Men and women. These are type A gardeners, and for them this is a blood sport. They grow tender roses in the frigid North and disease prone roses in the humid South simply for the challenge. They decorate otherwise lovely yards with paper bags and panty hose to isolate their choice specimens. They traipse through overgrown fields in the worst weather to save antique roses from extinction.
Aurelia Scott trails these self-professed Roseaholics as they plan, prepare, and compete, battling high winds, Japanese beetles, and the finicky demands of their precious charges. With all the appeal of Word Freak, Otherwise Normal People celebrates the singular satisfaction of cultivating beauty—and, of course, the thrill of victory.
"Scott, a freelance journalist from Maine, hung out with several of the gardeners competing in the American Rose Society's 2004 spring national show. She discovered a subculture 'where brain surgeons and construction workers are social equals,' with a freewheeling competitive 'spirit of make-do and can-do' that inspires improvisations like creating rose beds out of 40-gallon trash cans. (Two glossaries explain the classifications and other terminology for unfamiliar readers.) Scott's narrative structure — a chapter with each of her topics, building up to the competition, with a brief epilogue — is similar to the film Best in Show, but she doesn't poke fun, and for the most part she's caught up in their 'infectious' enthusiasm for roses. Whatever weight they exert on her own passion for gardening, however, remains largely unspoken. When Scott admits that her desire to practice organic gardening is dampened by her jealousy of the blooms an interview subject achieves spraying with chemicals, the personal revelation is jarring in its unexpectedness. The backseat approach frees Scott to elaborate on the outsized personalities of the gardeners she met. If only their colorful stories were matched by photographs of the flowers they raised." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Twice a year tens of thousands of otherwise normal people cut the prettiest blooms off their best roses and head into battle at the National Rose Show. Their goal? To win Queen of Show.
Doctors. Teachers. Sheet metal mechanics. Lawyers. Truck drivers. Men and women. These are type A gardeners, and for them this is a blood sport.
In Otherwise Normal People, Aurelia C. Scott follows the self-professed Roseaholics as they plan, prepare, and compete, battling high winds, Japanese beetles, and the finicky demands of their precious charges. Along the way we meet a former race-car driver who plans years in advance for each show; a forensic chemist whose collection of hybrid teas and miniatures tops out at nearly one thousand; a genteel woman who traipses through abandoned lots rescuing antique varieties; a doctor who woos his wife with his horticultural obsession and prowess; and presiding over them all, the ingenious Clarence Rhodes, creator of the world's most amazing garden contraptions.
Scott trails self-professed Roseaholics as they plan, prepare, and compete in the annual national rose show, documenting how they celebrate the singular satisfaction of cultivating beauty--and, of course, the thrill of victory.
About the Author
Aurelia C. Scott lives in Portland, Maine, where she grows roses and other flowering plants. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Fine Gardening, Cottage Living, and Yankee, among other publications.
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