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.
About the Author
GREG GRANT is the Smith County horticulturist for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Tyler. WILLIAM C. WELCH is professor and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service landscape horticulturist in the department of horticultural science, Texas A&M University.
"A superbly entertaining firsthand account of one of the most fascinating episodes in the history of American gardens. A must-read for anyone with an interest in heirloom roses and the survival of these classic beauties."—Thomas Christopher, author of In Search of Lost Roses
— Thomas Christopher
“This is a trip through the Old South and all the other places serious rosarians have joined arms and souls in the hunt for lost roses of yester-century. Reading this book is like a journey through two lifetimes of search and research.”—Neil Sperry, author of Lone Star Gardening
— Neil Sperry
“Two masterful horticulturists, one the mentor, one the student, weave a colorful and intriguing saga of plant discovery and human relationships that covers many decades and places, from California to South Carolina with a heavy dose of Texas, as they travel in search of lost and unnoticed heirloom roses. A touching, insightful read for anyone who loves life and, of course, roses!”—Chris S. Corby, editor and publisher, Texas Gardener
— Chris Corby
“a delightful, bright bloom of a book” —Galveston County Daily News
— Galveston County Daily News
“Neither of [the authors], and perhaps no one else, has made antique roses more accessible than they have in The Rose Rustlers. It is a master class in the methods and philosophy of collecting and preserving roses, written almost as if it were a series of letters to a friend.” —The American Gardner
— The American Gardner
“Once again the duo of Welch and Grant give us a fascinating and educational book that belongs in every southern gardener’s library. Beautifully illustrated with over two hundred color photographs, this book will easily pack along and serve as a reference to those who, like Bill and Greg, hope to seek out and save the lost roses across the South. For those who want to good armchair read, nothing could be as warmly and personally written.” —Magnolia
"Trust me when I say you don’t have to have a green thumb to enjoy Grant and Welch’s love letter to roses and rose rustling. However, green thumb or not, you may get the bug to start your very own rose garden if you haven’t already."—Insite Magazine
— Insite Magazine