cloth, 214 p., $24
Anatomy of a Rose is a gem, small in size but grand in its view of the plant universe. It is a scientific view of how flowers exist and perform, written in lyrical prose by a talented nature writer. Its subtitle, Exploring the Secret Life of Flowers, tells the reader that something is recounted here beyond Botany 101. Author Sharman Russell unlocks the plant world for readers, and in each chapter she brings her nature lesson back to the reality of her grandmother's garden, or a neighbor's flowers.
Ms. Russell reveals the science behind plant structure — its evolution, survival, courting strategies, pollination, flower fragrance and colors. She marvels at their beauty, their capacity to ease some of life's tragedies and their abilty to bring happiness. Writing about the aesthetics of flowers, she remarks, "Subtract flowers from the world and the whole world is dead from a human point of view. We know that flowers are beautiful. We forget that they are also essential."
Read this book slowly and savor each essay. Life's small lessons in plant strategies translate into larger ones for us.
— Adele Kleine, Library Volunteer and Master Gardener, Chicago Botanic Garden; contributing writer,Chicagoland Gardening magazine