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In Search of Lost Roses

Once upon a time—before the 1860s—people loved old roses like “Pearl of Gold,” “Marchionesse of Lorne,” or “Autumn Damask.” Then along came the hybrid tea roses, which were easier to arrange, more dramatic, and longer-blooming, and the old roses were all but forgotten. Now the lovely, subtle-hued, richly perfumed old roses are making a comeback, thanks to the efforts of a stubborn band of eccentric characters who rescued them from back alleys, ramshackle cottages, and overgrown graveyards across the country. Thomas Christopher tells us the fascinating stories of the old roses—how they were created and made their way to America—and the unforgettable people who “rustle” them from abandoned lots and secret gardens today, revelling in the mystery of an “unknown yellow.”

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