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THE WOMEN BEHIND THE ROSES An Introduction to Alister Clark's Women Rose-namesakes 1915-1952

240 x 180 mm, 288 pp, 70 colour plates and 70 b&w photos

9781877058936, $49.95, Hardcover

Tilley & Andrew Govanstone

Available: Now

This book is a celebration of the sixty-five women to whom Australia’s most prodigious rosarian, the late Alister Clark, chose to dedicate Glenara Seedling roses.

Of the many, many people Alister met throughout his life, from a wide array of circles, he deliberately honoured a selection of them when he chose their name in particular for the new Roses that he had created from his seedling bed at ‘Glenara’, his picturesque pastoral property at Bulla, some 20 km north west of Melbourne.

As the authors' knowledge and understanding of Alister’s rose-namesakes has grown over time, so they have come to appreciate that his particular choices were, in the majority of cases, his way of acknowledging the efforts, across a range of endeavours, of the women themselves. In some instances, where the rose-namesake was still a child, he was acknowledging his relationship with her family, or the achievements of the girl’s parents.

As rose-growers of the 1920s and 1930s came to appreciate and promote the beauty, vigour and array of Glenara Seedlings, so their curiosities became aroused as to the identity of the rose’s namesakes. After nearly 100 years of the registration and commercial release of Alister Clark’s first female-named rose ‘Jessie Clark’ the curiosity has not abated.

This book is also a celebration of the wonderful life and legacy of Alister Clark himself, Australia’s acknowledged ‘Man of Roses’.

Very few people in the world have left a legacy as beautiful and endearing as that of Alister Clark. Without doubt he was, during the latter half of his long life, Australia’s best known rosarian. During the first decade of the twentieth century Alister Clark spent his earliest years and then his adult years at the idyllic pastoral property ‘Glenara’, that had been established by his father Walter. When Alister purchased the Italianate style homestead from the family estate in 1887 he established an extensive garden of roses that was to become the backbone of breeding stock for his long-lasting and successful rose breeding program.

Alister’s main endeavour in breeding roses was to advance the development of the Rosa genus; to intervene in nature and establish new, improved, hardier varieties of roses that would flourish in the hotter, drier Australian climate, and grow better on Australian soils older and poorer than those of the Northern hemisphere. Further, he aimed to produce roses that would extend their flowering beyond a season; ideally, to bear blooms all year round.