Magazine article Sunset

Roses: A Love Story

Magazine article Sunset

Roses: A Love Story

Article excerpt

In 2007, Fallon Shea Anderson had green hair, a melancholy outlook, and a job in retail. The then-19-year-old was perpetually dawdling at the sidewalk sale rack-wishing more than anything to be outdoors-until she took a friend's suggestion to check out a wholesale rose farm in California's Sonoma County. "The owners found me in their fields, sniffing flowers," she says, "and begging for a job." Impressed by her enthusiasm, they hired Anderson on the spot.

Lacking any previous experience, it was trial by fire. The teenager had more than 5 acres and at least 5,000 roses to oversee, so Anderson hunted down rosarians and read every book she could find to educate herself. Eleven years later, she can now tell you that a rose's scent is strongest three hours after sunrise, that thorns range from bristly to wide and transparent, and that leaves are as individual as thumbprints. "I don't know the names of many other plants besides roses," says Anderson, today a consultant on rose cultivation and floral design in Southern California. "And I know almost all of their names."

The designer joins a long lineage of rose worshippers. Arguably the most recognizable flower in the world, roses have held significance for millennia. Cleopatra, for example, is rumored to have blanketed her floors more than a foot deep with petals. "The fragrance is an aphrodisiac," says Anderson. "She knew what she was doing." So, too, did Napoleon's first wife, Empress Josephine, who collected hundreds of varieties retrieved by gardeners from around the world. …

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