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The Rose's Kiss: A Natural History of Flowers

The Rose's Kiss: A Natural History of Flowers
Peter Bernhardt
Washington, D.C.: Island Press
Publication Date: 

cloth, 267 p., $24.95.

Despite the fanciful title, The Rose's Kiss is a serious book on the biology of plant life, written in a readable manner by an authoritative author. Peter Bernhardt is a biology professor and a research associate at both the Missouri Botanic Garden in St. Louis and the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney, Australia. The rose and other temperate flowers are often used in the text as examples along with Australian plants, many of which are unknown to the general reader.

With fanciful analogies and alluring chapter titles, he draws the reader into discussions of flowers, their plant parts, perfect and imperfect flowers, even fossil flowers (an interesting review of Biology 101) and everything you ever wanted to know about pollination. He reviews insect and wind dispersal, the effects of flower color and the nourishment of pollen grains. I will no longer look on the bee as a pest, but now admire his color, eating habits and fortitude. The chapter on airborne pollen is especially interesting to victims of allergies, and worth reading the book for that alone. After reading The Rose's Kiss, you are left with a deeper understanding and appreciation about the nature of flowers and their relationships to the world around you. This book concludes with an excellent glossary and annotated bibliography.

— Adele Kleine, Garden Writer and Contributing Writer to Chicagoland Gardening Magazine.