Gala and Honeycrisp. Pink Lady and Pacific Rose. King Luscious and Winesap. The names of apples are as juicy as the fruit itself. One of the most widely distributed fruits on the planet, apples have always meant something beyond food and drink—their seeds have been planted deep within the myths, religion, and art of nearly every culture. They are symbols of beauty, desire, and sin; signs of hidden poisons and healthy eating; emblems of computers, phones, and music. Exploring the symbolism, art, and literature of the apple, as well as its botanical background, Marcia Reiss follows this iconic fruit from its origins to its now-ubiquitous presence in our world.
Journeying back to the apple’s germination in the mountains of Central Asia, Reiss travels along the Silk Road to Europe and the New World. She reveals that, from Charlemagne to Johnny Appleseed to the colonization of South Africa, where settlers were required to plant apple orchards that led to the development of new towns, apples have become a global commodity. In addition to delving into the latest debates about chemical sprays, Reiss looks at the rise of heirloom orchards and the hopes and fears of genetic developments. She also tells the parallel tale of apple cider, its decline during the Temperance Movement and its return as an artisanal alternative to wine. Beautifully illustrated with historic and contemporary images and containing a directory of popular and heirloom varieties, Apple is a book ripe for devouring.
The lily is a flower of contradictions. It represents both life and death, appearing at weddings and funerals. In their pure white form, lilies are a symbol of innocence, chastity, and purity of heart, but in contrast, the highly fragrant and intensely colored orange lilies symbolize passion. In Lily, Marcia Reiss explores these paradoxes, tracing the flower’s cultural significance in art, literature, religion, and popular entertainment throughout history.
Reiss journeys from the tomb carvings of ancient Egypt to the paintings of Claude Monet, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Salvador Dalí, exploring the lily as a subject of fascination and obsession. Unearthing many absorbing facts and fables about the blossom, she examines its use in cuisine and reveals them to have been a source of food and medicine in China for centuries. While Reiss focuses her attention on true lilies and the ornamental hybrids breeders have derived from them, she also provides extensive information about a wide variety of popular lilies, including daylilies, lilies of the valley, water lilies, and calla lilies. Filled with striking illustrations of these gorgeous plants, Lily is a book for gardeners and lily admirers alike.