Saturday, March 24, 2007

Listening to Amy Stewart, author of Flower Confidential

Again, I was kicking myself for not bringing my camera. I went to Amy Stewart's talk at Capitola Books, promoting her new book Flower Confidential. I've been following Amy's writing over on her blog, and then at Garden Rant where she is a contributer. But as her new book is out she hasn't had much to contribute to Garden Rant. But I always enjoy reading her work.

And I sat in the audience wondering why I don't go to more of these author talks. As I am taking this writing class, I found I was learning a lot about the writer and the process of writing. I think the only thing that I find to deter me is that I'd spend a whole lot more money on books if I went to the talks more regularly. And that is a dangerous temptation for me.

Amy Stewart's book is very enlightening, if you've ever wondered about the flower industry at all. I find that the subject is parallel to where our food comes from (before the grocery store). She does touch on many current topics like sustainable production techniques, organic growers, fair trade, and carbon footprint. Even in the first few chapters, I know the names of people she is writing about; Luther Burbank, Leslie Woodriff, Ted Kirsch, etc. First of all, I have a passion for plants and when all you can think about is plants, you start to learn the names of hybridizers, growers, resellers, garden authors, and the lot. I was similarly amused when I read The Orchid Thief, as I recognized many names there too, since I had been a suscriber to American Orchid Society for years. I didn't think I'd like the book as I had judged it by its cover. First of all, it's not a ghost orchid, which is what the plot revolves around. Secondly, and perhaps the most disturbing aspect is that the cover is a picture of a Phalaenopsis and it is upside down! But I digress.

And secondly, much of the writing in Flower Confidential is about places that are local to where I live. On my way home, I pass greenhouse after greenhouse. Nurseries here grow everything from exotic succulents and orchids, to poinsettias and carnations. Colorspot - the company that grows many of the annuals in Home Depot, has it's main growing facilities only a few miles from my home. So maybe the plant disease is an airborne contagion, but I think the problem simply caused me to gravitate to where the plants are. I must be near them. [grin] She also writes about Bonny Doon Garden Company, which is a florist located on Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz. I love her bouquets and would pass up a delicious meal in a fine restaurant in trade for one of her creations. She brought 2 arrangements to the book talk that were to die for. And I love the fact that many of the arrangements come from local gardens & nurseries. As much as I appreciate the lovely roses from South America, I would rather have locally grown flowers.

By the way, I should note that I ended up loving The Orchid Thief, despite the cover. And so far, I am really enjoying Flower Confidential.

Here's a little description of the book in the author's own words: