"Stewart shows in stunning detail that every aspect of producing flowers for the cut-flower market has been abstracted into its elements....I found this book not only revelatory in a distressing way, but informative at every level, engaging in the pictures it gives of the people involved in the trade, and commendably fair-minded."
"Stewart is an acute observer and intelligent writer...a compelling read."
—San Francisco Chronicle
Stewart, an avid gardener and winner of the 2005 California Horticultural Society's Writer's Award for her book The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms, now tackles the global flower industry. Her investigations take her from an eccentric lily breeder to an Australian business with the alchemical mission of creating a blue rose. She visits a romantically anachronistic violet grower, the largest remaining California grower of cut flowers and a Dutch breeder employing high-tech methods to develop flowers in equatorial countries where wages are low. Stewart follows a rose from the remote Ecuadoran greenhouse where it's grown to the American retailer where it's finally sold, and visits a huge, stock –exchange–like Dutch flower auction. These present-day adventures are interspersed with fascinating histories of the various aspects of flower culture, propagation and commerce. Stewart's floral romanticism-she admits early on that she's "always had a generalized, smutty sort of lust for flowers"-survives the potentially disillusioning revelations of the flower biz, though her passion only falters a few times, as when she witnesses roses being dipped in fungicide in preparation for export. By the end, this book is as lush as the flowers it describes.
"Flower Confidential attains the uncommon rank of a non-fiction book that is equally as rewarding to the reader for its storytelling as it is for its content. Even if you're not into flowers, it's fascinating to see how a major industry is built around such a short-lived, aesthetic luxury."
"A new book every flower lover should read. . . . Amy is one of my favorite garden writers and not just because we're in sync about our craft. . . . She gives lessons in botany and big business, history and horticulture. She enlightens and entertains; she poses questions and offers opinions. And she does it with style."
"Stewart's journey takes us down many such paths, all connected by her own curiosity and highly readable prose. The greatest value of Flower Confidential, however, is that it was written at all."
—the Washington Post