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

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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. Th 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.


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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. Th 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.

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

  1. 4 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    This review has been updated and can now be seen at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud! This review has been updated and can now be seen at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud!

  2. 5 out of 5

    David

    Having just read a book which ripped the reddish-green face off the tomato industry, I was anticipating the same treatment for flowers, after which I could go in search of an exploration of the human suffering that goes into every bottle of spray starch, or perhaps a brutal exposé on the machinations of Big Carrot. But Amy Stewart isn't going there, even if she observes and documents a normal amount of, uh, garden-variety exploitation while documenting a flower's path to the marketplace. She is Having just read a book which ripped the reddish-green face off the tomato industry, I was anticipating the same treatment for flowers, after which I could go in search of an exploration of the human suffering that goes into every bottle of spray starch, or perhaps a brutal exposé on the machinations of Big Carrot. But Amy Stewart isn't going there, even if she observes and documents a normal amount of, uh, garden-variety exploitation while documenting a flower's path to the marketplace. She is generally not shocked by the process of getting the product to the market, but she does seem a little flabbergasted, or perhaps bemused. I am neither flabbergasted or bemused. It all makes perfect sense to me. Although I don't (even after reading the book) understand flowers, I have perhaps a better instinctive grasp of money than this book's author. So, for example, when the author says she is confused why flower breeders are squandering so much time and treasure in a (to this day unsuccessful) search for a naturally-occurring (not spray-painted) blue rose when she can find no one who will admit to wanting one, I have to remark that no one thought that they needed an Ipad, or the “Ode to Joy” for that matter, before they came to the market. Yet when they appeared, people seemed to believe that they somehow filled a void that they didn't even know that they had. The result was an avalanche of money for a few lucky people, and also a general improvement in the world. Blue roses might or might not be a monster smash on their first day on the market. If they aren't, a political movement lacking a symbol might adopt them, or perhaps they will feature prominently in some lucrative romantic movie, and before you know it they'll be flying off the shelves steadily for months at a stretch. You don't need a rich imagination to envision this happening; you just need to be walking around with your eyes open. My black-and-white Kindle of course could not present an adequate picture of the so-called “Blue Rose” produced by the Japanese whiskey-making conglomerate Suntory in 2009 and described on page 47. However, you can see a picture of it here, among other places. I agree with Stewart: that sucker is purple. Not Blue. Purple. They can call it blue, but it's not blue, because, the twin best efforts of modernity and capitalism to the contrary, words still mean things. (Why is a whiskey-making conglomerate breeding flowers? There's a pretty good explanation in the book.) I might be showing some sort of deep-seated moral/spiritual/aesthetic deficit by admitting my relative immunity to the charms of flora, but Stewart's repeated reaction in the book to nearly everything botanic -- specifically, that she wants to pick it up, stroke it, own it, hug it, caress it, take it home -- also struck me as rather odd. (I wanted to say: “You know, flowers don't actually care if you love them.”) However, she doesn't let this distract her too much from documenting the flower industry. Her enthusiasm for flowers sometimes translates into a resentment of those who profit from them, but she acknowledges it and mostly keeps it under control. There's a lot of personification of flowers in this book. Commenting on the commercialization of flowers on page 184 of the Kindle edition, Stewart writes: “If it seems like flowers have lost their soul in this process, well, they have.” My first reaction was to wheel out a massive siege engine of invective and prepare a missile asking if turnips, weeds, and ugly flowers have souls too, or if souls just reside in pretty flowers that Stewart want to take home and snuggle. After a nice lie down and some medication, I decided that Stewart didn't mean “soul” in the sense of the ghostly presence that is alleged to reside in human beings. Instead, I think that she meant the sense that we use sometimes when we speak of music or other arts, that is, a sense of a personal transmission of the emotional experience of the producer, which cannot be summed up by the inadequate words “happy” or “sad”, to the receiver, an attempt to bridge the gulf between humans. Anyway, I hope that's what she meant, because if you believe that flowers have actual souls, it's hard to defend supporting an industry that murders them at the height of their beauty, and then prolongs their death agonies so we can momentarily beautify our homes, or please a woman. In summary, a good book which told me interesting things concerning a subject which I previously knew nothing. Recommended in, of all places, Foreign Policy magazine, July/Aug 07

  3. 5 out of 5

    Petra-X Off having adventures

    Wonderful boook detailing the development of commercial breeding from its earliest days in America to the 'factory' farms of South America producing the biggest, most beautiful blooms available at only the most exclusive florists. There is a long diversion into the mind-bogglingly mixture of dirt&plants and computerised bidding in the famous flower market of Amsterdam. The book is written in a very easy, though informative, style and would interest people who generally like non-fiction, you don't Wonderful boook detailing the development of commercial breeding from its earliest days in America to the 'factory' farms of South America producing the biggest, most beautiful blooms available at only the most exclusive florists. There is a long diversion into the mind-bogglingly mixture of dirt&plants and computerised bidding in the famous flower market of Amsterdam. The book is written in a very easy, though informative, style and would interest people who generally like non-fiction, you don't have to be into flowers to enjoy this book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nomad

    Let me state that I do not garden, will never garden and plants go into fear seizures if I come too close. However, I'm surrounded by women who garden, so I end up absorbing things though osmosis I guess and have come to enjoy a few garden writers out there. Amy Stewart is the best of the lot. She's funny, and she never forgets that about half the people reading her are not, and never will be, botonists. Anyone can pick up her books, read them, learn stuff and also be utterly entertained. I never Let me state that I do not garden, will never garden and plants go into fear seizures if I come too close. However, I'm surrounded by women who garden, so I end up absorbing things though osmosis I guess and have come to enjoy a few garden writers out there. Amy Stewart is the best of the lot. She's funny, and she never forgets that about half the people reading her are not, and never will be, botonists. Anyone can pick up her books, read them, learn stuff and also be utterly entertained. I never thought I would give a hooping funt about the cut flower industry nor would I ever enjoy reading a book about it. I was wrong. This book was both fascinating and entertaining. It made we want to go out and buy flowers... and so I have. There is now a vase of flowers constantly on my kitchen table. Always refreshed when they die and mostly because of this book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Melki

    I could almost imagine the individual fates of these flowers. Here were millions of stems representing festivity and well wishes, the possibilities of romance, even apologies and regrets. What would these flowers be called upon to do when they finally went home with somebody? What mistakes would they have to fix? Who would they have to cheer up or seduce? Though there's some good and important information here regarding the human and environmental costs of getting a flower from seed to florist or I could almost imagine the individual fates of these flowers. Here were millions of stems representing festivity and well wishes, the possibilities of romance, even apologies and regrets. What would these flowers be called upon to do when they finally went home with somebody? What mistakes would they have to fix? Who would they have to cheer up or seduce? Though there's some good and important information here regarding the human and environmental costs of getting a flower from seed to florist or grocery store, I found it slow going. I guess I'm just not as interested in the flower biz as I thought I'd be, though I will say . . . my husband loved this one.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Deborah

    From a geneticist’s lab in one of several countries to the breeders in the Netherlands to the growers in Ecuador, back to the Netherlands for auction or directly to a wholesaler in Miami, to a florist near you, the arrangement in your living room is well traveled, to say the least. In Flower Confidential, Amy Stewart takes us on an insightful, behind-the-scenes journey through the floral industry, following the chain from beginning to end, around the world. Along the way, we learn that flowers a From a geneticist’s lab in one of several countries to the breeders in the Netherlands to the growers in Ecuador, back to the Netherlands for auction or directly to a wholesaler in Miami, to a florist near you, the arrangement in your living room is well traveled, to say the least. In Flower Confidential, Amy Stewart takes us on an insightful, behind-the-scenes journey through the floral industry, following the chain from beginning to end, around the world. Along the way, we learn that flowers and the people who grow them are affected not only by our aesthetic preferences and consumer choices, but also by our political decisions ethical standards. Few people would be familiar with the 1970 amendment to the Plant Patent Act of 1930, as few would know the tragedy behind the iconic ‘Star Gazer’ lily, but virtually everyone would recognize the flower. Colorful clusters of mums have been a common sight in nurseries and florist shops for more than half a century, but few people living today remember that they suddenly disappeared during the forced internment of their propagators, Japanese Americans. When we send roses to Mom, it’s likely they’ve been nurtured and picked by another mom in Columbia or Ecuador; her story is worth reading, too.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Anastasia

    This was a very interesting book and a very quick read. I learned a lot about the flower industry-- things I had NEVER even thought to wonder about. It's interesting that this industry, which sells a beautiful product that is supposed to cheer people up, make them feel happy and loved, really hides a lot of yuck behind it-- polluting our water and soil with pesticides, exploiting workers and exposing them to toxic chemicals, blocking bees, birds, butterflies, etc., from accessing their food sour This was a very interesting book and a very quick read. I learned a lot about the flower industry-- things I had NEVER even thought to wonder about. It's interesting that this industry, which sells a beautiful product that is supposed to cheer people up, make them feel happy and loved, really hides a lot of yuck behind it-- polluting our water and soil with pesticides, exploiting workers and exposing them to toxic chemicals, blocking bees, birds, butterflies, etc., from accessing their food sources, adding to global warming by growing flowers in one locale and shipping them all over the world, etc., etc. The main thing I didn't like about this book was that the author's love for cut flowers seemed to cause her to overlook the very problems she wrote about. With all that said, I do enjoy flowers (when they're growing out of the ground in my neighborhood) and I'd have loved to see beautiful photos of them, but the ones in this book were not in color and all the brilliance and beauty was washed out and the photos were useless.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Karatepop

    3.5 - Very interesting! It took me a while to get into it for some reason and I couldn't help but feel that something was missing, but I still enjoyed it quite a bit mostly because the topic is interesting. Her style isn't super engaging for me, but lots of folks disagree, so give it a shot! I'll update after I send myself all my notes (one benefit of e-books). Also! I'm surprised at the number of not-so-great reviews from people that are like "UGH FLOWERS ARE SO WASTEFUL" and "I hate flowers" an 3.5 - Very interesting! It took me a while to get into it for some reason and I couldn't help but feel that something was missing, but I still enjoyed it quite a bit mostly because the topic is interesting. Her style isn't super engaging for me, but lots of folks disagree, so give it a shot! I'll update after I send myself all my notes (one benefit of e-books). Also! I'm surprised at the number of not-so-great reviews from people that are like "UGH FLOWERS ARE SO WASTEFUL" and "I hate flowers" and "ugh girly stuff omgewgrosslookitmyalternativeinterests". Get bent, buttheads. I'm guessing these people didn't finish the book or missed the point entirely. (P.S. Numerous studies actually show improvement in work performance and overall happiness when there's greenery and/or flowers. At least one of these studies is in the bibliography of the book. So hate away and continue your sad, miserable existence!)

  9. 4 out of 5

    Laura Jean

    Fascinating view of the flower industry. For example, I had NO idea one shouldn't put freshly cut flowers near fruit...the apples off gas....something that aids in their deterioration. Also, don't put cut flowers on the TV or in direct sunlight. Wonder why flowers don't SMELL anymore? Read this book and find out that and ALL other sorts of interesting things. Fascinating view of the flower industry. For example, I had NO idea one shouldn't put freshly cut flowers near fruit...the apples off gas....something that aids in their deterioration. Also, don't put cut flowers on the TV or in direct sunlight. Wonder why flowers don't SMELL anymore? Read this book and find out that and ALL other sorts of interesting things.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kaethe Douglas

    Since I suffer from allergies to everything that grows, I'm not the sort of person to keep vases of flowers around. But this book is fascinating, even if one isn't particularly flowery. Since I suffer from allergies to everything that grows, I'm not the sort of person to keep vases of flowers around. But this book is fascinating, even if one isn't particularly flowery.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Diamanda

    My mother has never liked flowers -- at least not the cut kind. They were deemed impractical, a waste of money, money best spent elsewhere, and I think I carried that same sentiment starting this book. The book begins with the story of the Star Gazer Lilly, the very flower my mother regrettably spent too much money on for her wedding day. It is this way that flowers have such an interesting cultural importance: someone who doesn't even like cut flowers still needed them at her wedding day. And i My mother has never liked flowers -- at least not the cut kind. They were deemed impractical, a waste of money, money best spent elsewhere, and I think I carried that same sentiment starting this book. The book begins with the story of the Star Gazer Lilly, the very flower my mother regrettably spent too much money on for her wedding day. It is this way that flowers have such an interesting cultural importance: someone who doesn't even like cut flowers still needed them at her wedding day. And it's true-- funerals would be too bleak without them as Amy Stewart points out. Amy Stewart draws attention to some interesting aspects of the industry and is a great writer, but I think this book does lack some critical analysis of the industry. Her perspective throughout is obvious; she loves flowers and finds them to be beautiful, charming, wonderful things. And by the end of the book I was convinced of the same, and I find myself wanting my very own bouquet to admire. At the same time, the issues with the industry, particularly with worker exploitation and exposure to hazardous chemicals is mentioned and glossed over. That content is instead replaced with the promises of organic farms that don't have such devastating potential. While these are promising and hopeful (maybe even more so over a decade later?), it's still hard to shake the feeling of exploitation that isn't quantifiable or even apparent on the petals of a rose. The exploitation doesn't cloud its beauty or warp its meaning when gifted, but it's there. I think mentioning that exploitation would end the book on a better message for readers -- to be insistent on organic flowers, or to think about the source of their expressions of love. Overall, this book was very informative and well-written.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rene Sears

    An engrossing look at flower growers and breeders. I used to work in a flower shop, and this look at what happens to the flowers to get them from the farm to the shop is wonderful. Very interesting to see how farms differ worldwide. Stewart writes with a clear love of, and interest in, the subject matter, with clear, evocative language.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dawn Betts-Green (Dinosaur in the Library)

    Super interesting, but I was disappointed she didn't mention Little Shop of Horrors at all lol Super interesting, but I was disappointed she didn't mention Little Shop of Horrors at all lol

  14. 4 out of 5

    Naomi

    I am a floral designer at a high end events and floral company in a major city in the US, so I was extremely excited to read this book in the hopes of learning a little bit more about the industry. I did not go to school to be in the floral industry (I'm using that history degree... Ha), so all the knowledge I have has been picked up while at work. A lot of the concerns and stories related by those in my area of the industry ring true, and are those I've experienced myself (or at least someone a I am a floral designer at a high end events and floral company in a major city in the US, so I was extremely excited to read this book in the hopes of learning a little bit more about the industry. I did not go to school to be in the floral industry (I'm using that history degree... Ha), so all the knowledge I have has been picked up while at work. A lot of the concerns and stories related by those in my area of the industry ring true, and are those I've experienced myself (or at least someone at the shop has). This is the first book specifically about the industry I've read, so I can't personally attest to the accuracy of other information provided when it comes to the growing and buying sides. I also am not well read enough about the debate over organic flowers to have an opinion. However, I do think this book is a good first step to learning even more about it all. Interesting side note (to me), my dad grew up in Arcata, and has a cousin who has worked for a large flower farm in the area for multiple decades. He thinks it's might be Sun Valley Floral Farms! (Too bad I don't actually like the Stargazer Lily...). Anyway, I am handing this book off to another designer, and others are interested as well. I'm curious to see what their opinions of Veriflora (i checked, and not a single florist in the state is certified) and similar topics are, and I look forward to reading more about it all.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Everything you ever wanted to know about the cut flower industry! She's an excellent writer. She starts out with the story of the man who developed the star gazer lily - how he did it and how he marketed it (or actually failed to market it,) and what happened to him later in life. She goes to visit Guatemala where there are many flower farms from which flowers are imported to this country, and ends up in Holland where the international flower markets take place. Kind of like Wall street, but for Everything you ever wanted to know about the cut flower industry! She's an excellent writer. She starts out with the story of the man who developed the star gazer lily - how he did it and how he marketed it (or actually failed to market it,) and what happened to him later in life. She goes to visit Guatemala where there are many flower farms from which flowers are imported to this country, and ends up in Holland where the international flower markets take place. Kind of like Wall street, but for flowers. If you buy flowers casually at the grocery store, you might want to think twice about the labor conditions of the folks in the field. Plus the fact that every bunch of flowers that enters this country is dipped into fungicide as it comes in through Miami. There are organic and fair trade alternatives, and I encourage folks to seek them out! A movie that touches on this peripherally is called Maria Full of Grace. It's about a woman in Colombia who becomes a "mule" which means she smuggles drugs into this country. She does it because she works at a rose farm and her options are severely limited and she wants to broaden her horizons.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    A few years ago, while writing an article for Chicagoland Gardening magazine about how annuals make their way from vast commercial greenhouses to our local garden centers, I reluctantly learned to view flowers as commodities. Amy Stewart's book offers much the same perspective, though obviously in greater depth, for the cut flower industry. Her descriptions of walking through greenhouses and shipping facilities and auction houses sounded eerily similar to what I had seen and heard about plants g A few years ago, while writing an article for Chicagoland Gardening magazine about how annuals make their way from vast commercial greenhouses to our local garden centers, I reluctantly learned to view flowers as commodities. Amy Stewart's book offers much the same perspective, though obviously in greater depth, for the cut flower industry. Her descriptions of walking through greenhouses and shipping facilities and auction houses sounded eerily similar to what I had seen and heard about plants grown for garden use, though it was fascinating to witness her following flowers through the entire growing and selling chain, from Ecuador to Miami to Holland to her local florist. I don't think I'll ever look at those bouquets in the grocery store the same way again (especially if they're too close to the ethylene-producing fruit section!), but I have to confess the book inspired me to go out and buy myself some flowers. I think Stewart came away from her journey feeling exactly the same way.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    Got this book from a coworker to give to my mom. Had nothing else to read so I learned about the business end of cut flowers. Actually pretty interesting. I also learned that I like "how things really work" kind of books based on this one and "The Omnivore's Dilemna". I might want to explore this realization in my next book selection. But I digress. Overall the book does a good job of going from the ground to the story in the travels of the flower. It's part garden book, part economics. If you p Got this book from a coworker to give to my mom. Had nothing else to read so I learned about the business end of cut flowers. Actually pretty interesting. I also learned that I like "how things really work" kind of books based on this one and "The Omnivore's Dilemna". I might want to explore this realization in my next book selection. But I digress. Overall the book does a good job of going from the ground to the story in the travels of the flower. It's part garden book, part economics. If you plan on going to Quito Ecuador any time soon, you'll be traveling to one of the major rose producers in the world. Although you won't see many flowers in the town, according to the book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jane Sunshine

    The history of flower development, changes in flowers, the growing, distribution and sale of flowers, and her visits to the sites of these issues is most interesting. I felt she had a relationship to Michael Pollan in his coverage of changes in plants to suit the changing popularion.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Valeska

    I love Amy Stewart's style of writing. First, this was a great subject matter - all about flowers and the florist industry. Plus, she blends interesting facts about the flowers with the stories of the people she interviews in the industry. An entertaining, engaging read. I love Amy Stewart's style of writing. First, this was a great subject matter - all about flowers and the florist industry. Plus, she blends interesting facts about the flowers with the stories of the people she interviews in the industry. An entertaining, engaging read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

    good book if you are interested in flowers and how thy get to market. I think it should have color pictures so everone can picture the flowers.

  21. 5 out of 5

    LearningMum

    Everything you never thought you'd want to know about the floral industry! Well-written, fascinating, detailed. Everything you never thought you'd want to know about the floral industry! Well-written, fascinating, detailed.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Amy Stewart is an amazing writer always enjoy her books and as someone who loves flowers this is a fascinating look at the industry.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ann Woodbury Moore

    Who knew that the business of flowers could be so fascinating? This is a well-written, intriguing book about cultivating and selling flowers, from creating new varieties to growing and auctioning them to supplying local supermarkets or florist shops. A few interesting facts: with the rise in out-patient surgery and hospital stays no longer than 48 hours, there's been a major drop in flowers being delivered to patients (your friends may not even know you've been ailing). Obituaries stating "in li Who knew that the business of flowers could be so fascinating? This is a well-written, intriguing book about cultivating and selling flowers, from creating new varieties to growing and auctioning them to supplying local supermarkets or florist shops. A few interesting facts: with the rise in out-patient surgery and hospital stays no longer than 48 hours, there's been a major drop in flowers being delivered to patients (your friends may not even know you've been ailing). Obituaries stating "in lieu of flowers, please donate to..." are the bane of florists' existence. Martha Stewart was a key figure in encouraging the use of more, and more expensive, flowers in weddings, interior decoration, and parties. And, why can't someone create a flower-giving holiday or two between Mother's Day and Christmas? "Flower Confidential" was published 10 years ago, and I frequently found myself looking up names and places online to see if they were still around. For the most part, yes. Still, it would have been nice to have more up-to-date statistics.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cally

    this was a good book to start delving into the world of cut flowers. my quick (and non-comprehensive) takeaways: - we undervalue the price of living things and the labor they require to grow - we have a lot of death denial around cut flowers (we expect them to wilt much slower since we determine their worth by their cost compared to how long they last), and science is trying to keep up with our demands in a whole host of ways) - creating and breeding for long-lasting cut flowers means they will hav this was a good book to start delving into the world of cut flowers. my quick (and non-comprehensive) takeaways: - we undervalue the price of living things and the labor they require to grow - we have a lot of death denial around cut flowers (we expect them to wilt much slower since we determine their worth by their cost compared to how long they last), and science is trying to keep up with our demands in a whole host of ways) - creating and breeding for long-lasting cut flowers means they will have little to no scent. the process of fragrance in flowers has pathways that require ethylene, enemy of the flower industry, because it makes them wilt and die (same chemical that ripens fruit). flowers, esp roses, are sprayed with scent later on or have flower essences added to their water when in vases to give us an illusion of being able to smell the flowers - don't bathe in rose petals from cut flowers

  25. 5 out of 5

    Melanie H

    Solid 3.75 stars A surprisingly riveting read about the journey cut flowers take before finding their place among your bouquet. Latin American hoop houses, Dutch auction houses, international travel, this story has it all. To be honest, this book makes me want to chuck a bunch of seeds in my yard and never buy a mass produced flower again. Exploited female labor. Worker exposure to pesticides. Genetically modified flowers that have never seen the sun or tasted the sweetness of a bee. Late stage c Solid 3.75 stars A surprisingly riveting read about the journey cut flowers take before finding their place among your bouquet. Latin American hoop houses, Dutch auction houses, international travel, this story has it all. To be honest, this book makes me want to chuck a bunch of seeds in my yard and never buy a mass produced flower again. Exploited female labor. Worker exposure to pesticides. Genetically modified flowers that have never seen the sun or tasted the sweetness of a bee. Late stage capitalism is even chasing your blooms. UGH. Horticulturalists and flower aficionados might not be impressed, but for someone with only a passing interest in the subject, it’s absolutely fascinating. Now, where are my bulbs?

  26. 5 out of 5

    Frangimeria

    It reads like a Michael Pollan book about flowers - that’s the closest thing I can relate it to. A lovely, easy read - I found myself frequently stopping to go to google images to look up some of the flowers she described - and one that makes me want to find my own local florist! So many little things and details that feed into the floral industry that I had never considered (I’m always trying to discharge people from the hospital quicker to save on bills; I didn’t think that that meant fewer fl It reads like a Michael Pollan book about flowers - that’s the closest thing I can relate it to. A lovely, easy read - I found myself frequently stopping to go to google images to look up some of the flowers she described - and one that makes me want to find my own local florist! So many little things and details that feed into the floral industry that I had never considered (I’m always trying to discharge people from the hospital quicker to save on bills; I didn’t think that that meant fewer flower deliveries!) - lots and lots to think about. But I think I will be aiming to grow more flowers of my own next year, too. 4.5 stars.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lila

    My mother had a houseplant nursery in Southern California, so I grew up around the business. Mom would sell occasional orchid blooms to the local nursery and had some business connections--and boy did I have some out-of-sight bouquets at my wedding. This is a fascinating and well written view of the florist industry. Stewart's writing can make you interested in just about anything. This said, some biology background will be helpful because she does go into the parts of the flower. After reading th My mother had a houseplant nursery in Southern California, so I grew up around the business. Mom would sell occasional orchid blooms to the local nursery and had some business connections--and boy did I have some out-of-sight bouquets at my wedding. This is a fascinating and well written view of the florist industry. Stewart's writing can make you interested in just about anything. This said, some biology background will be helpful because she does go into the parts of the flower. After reading this book, I was inclined to support my local florist, who has a flower farm nearby, and makes unusual arrangements. I just wish my cats didn't try to eat them.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ash Pierce

    A marvelous, rich and full picture of all aspects of the cut floral industry. I will never look at a cut flower the same way again. Extensively researched, well informed and wildly colorful. This is much, much more than a book on statistics, it is a worldwide journey through history and into the future of the industry, from small growers to box stores, from backyard breeders to the tulip fields of Holland.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lise

    I don't really care for flowers (or plants), but I care for interesting stories. This provided small glimpses into every part of the process that lies behind the flowers we can buy. I knew that the Netherlands produce a huge amount, but I did not know how advanced the whole thing was or how huge the industry is all over the world. From the eccentric small growers, to the high tech dystopian megafactory farms, and everything in between. I might want to get some flowers now. I don't really care for flowers (or plants), but I care for interesting stories. This provided small glimpses into every part of the process that lies behind the flowers we can buy. I knew that the Netherlands produce a huge amount, but I did not know how advanced the whole thing was or how huge the industry is all over the world. From the eccentric small growers, to the high tech dystopian megafactory farms, and everything in between. I might want to get some flowers now.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rogue Reader

    Eye-opening presentation of the global flower market, from development to delivery and sales. Now I understand why grocery store roses don't open, why the flowers have no scent. The elaborate system set up to sell flowers seems absurd and wasteful. The book made me focus on flowers should be as much a local product as food. Eye-opening presentation of the global flower market, from development to delivery and sales. Now I understand why grocery store roses don't open, why the flowers have no scent. The elaborate system set up to sell flowers seems absurd and wasteful. The book made me focus on flowers should be as much a local product as food.

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