The Rose Rustlers

The Rose Rustlers

The Rose Rustlers

The Rose Rustlers

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

Who doesn’t love stories about the discovery of heirloom plants? Wherever botany, history, and humans meet, fascinating landscapes unfold.

With The Rose Rustlers, Dr. William “Bill” Welch and Greg Grant offer a wonderfully 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. Their experiences and friendships with other figures of the heirloom rose world bring an insider’s perspective to lore first introduced in such classics of garden writing as Tom Christopher’s In Search of Lost Roses and Steve Bender, Felder Rushing, and Allen Lacy’s Passalong Plants.

No one in the past forty-five years has so profoundly impacted Texas horticulture as Bill Welch, who has spent many years with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. He helped develop the state’s Master Gardener program. His lectures on perennials, roses, and landscape design have been heard by almost every Master Gardener training class in Texas. He has presented his landscape design courses twice a year since 1972. With a tireless work ethic, he has also written numerous books and given hundreds of talks at garden clubs and other meetings across the South.

Many leaders of Southern horticulture have benefited from Bill’s expertise, but I feel especially lucky to have worked with him firsthand when we started the Antique Rose Emporium in 1982. Under his tutelage, I learned the value of roses as useful landscape plants. Numerous varieties that we reintroduced to commerce continue to blossom across the emporium’s eight acres. Over a thirty-year stretch, they have enchanted thousands of visitors with an “ooh and aah” experience. Bill knew that potential when he rustled his first rose.

Greg, too, is a Texas treasure. With keen powers of observation and a gentle voice, he shares a passion for gardening that is beautifully apparent in this book. At the risk of sounding cheeky, I’ll also call him a plant whisperer. in Greg’s presence, plants reveal amazing ranges of expression. He has discovered not only new species but also color mutations on many flowers . . .

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