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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

ROSES (article first published : 2001-11-3)

The Greek poet Sappho in the 5th century BC described the rose as “the Queen of Flowers” and who would dispute his conferred Royal title? Certainly not Ludwig Taschner, South Africa’s most famous authority on roses and author of his recently published book, Roses.

It is a classic on the subject and explodes the fears of those who think that growing roses is difficult and that a garden is essential. Not so, because there are excellent instructions about growing roses in containers. So those living in flats with balconies who may think that roses are beyond their wildest dreams, then this is a book for you.

Pruning: This seems to cast a spell of terror and mystery that frightens-off most would-be growers. Mr Taschner in his very entertaining book lifts the veil of mystery and removes the fear of pruning so that you will wonder why you have not tried growing roses. His chapter on pruning, complete with the illustrations, is the best I have ever seen and especially the part dealing with the pruning of climbing roses. Inadequate instructions and illustrations in many books have left this subject rather on the vague side even to experienced growers. Not in Ludwig Taschner’s book. It’s precise, and with illustrations that leave no doubt as to how it’s done.

The photography, particularly of individual blooms is of such brilliance that I would be inclined to buy two copies of Roses and cut some of the pictures out of one to mount them as miniatures!

Incidentally, Ludwig Taschner seems to have ignored the recent new classification of what were called “Hybrid Tea Roses” because he still calls them “H.T.’s”. This pleases me because the origin of the name “Hybrid Tea” is very interesting. During the Victorian era the early hybrid roses had a scent similar to that of the inside of the tea chests imported into England from China – hence the name “Hybrid Tea”. A far more romantic name!

A book on roses to be read and read again … because it’s that sort of book.

The credits for the illustrations go to Georgina Steyn and most of the photographs to Ludwig Taschner with some from the well-known names of Marianne Alexander and Nancy Gardiner.

Roses by Ludwig Taschner is published by Struik Publishers (Pty) Limited and is on sale at R119.95. – John Simpson




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