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September 27, 1997|MARK CHALON SMITH

Information really is at your fingertips, whether thumbing through pages or tapping at the computer keyboard. This column will help direct you, both at the bookstore and on the Internet, to sources that will make life easier in and around the home.


Coming up roses: Stuart W. Span's "Coastal Roses: Selection and Care for Southern California" ($10, Roger's Gardens, 1997).

The bare necessities: Span, from Los Alamitos, is clearly taken with "the queen of flowers" and focuses exclusively on the dozens of varieties grown in the Southland.

The author, the rosarian for Roger's Gardens nursery in Corona del Mar, has packed the 59-page, softbound booklet with planting, feeding, and disease and bug-control tips that should help any gardener who has struggled to raise this temperamental bud.

The booklet also provides a comprehensive list of local roses. There are more than 100 (with names such as "Baby Talk," "Heaven" and "Just Joey"), and Span details their size, fragrance, color and hardiness.

All stems, no buds: There aren't any photos (only a few simple illustrations scattered about), and that's a minus. A plus for serious rose folk is Span's straightforward, conversational style. You don't have to hack through much whimsy or other writing indulgences to reach the solid advice.

Bottom line: "Coastal Roses" can be ordered through Roger's Garden, (714) 640-5800.


Cyber soil: There are a handful of Internet sites dedicated to Shakespeare's favorite flower and two of the best are the American Rose Society ( and the Rose Resource (

The Society's site isn't decorated with trendy cutting-edge animation (neither is Rose Resource), but it does feature several down-loadable photos, including the Rose of the Month. The chosen rose usually comes with a personal testimonial from rosarians around the country.

Susan Ford, one from Norman, Okla., recently told how the pinkish Rosa Mundi brought her closer to her mother before she died. There's also a page with rose facts and another with useful information gathered from various experts. They explain how to fight insects, make cuttings and even arrange stems for competitions.

Another plot: The Rose Resource offers much of the same--common-sense pointers, pretty graphics and bright photos--but also has a section devoted to the flower's often arcane history.

It turns out that roses are very, very old (fossil records put their age at about 3.5 billion years), and they even have a World War II connection. One of the most popular varieties, the "Peace" rose, was smuggled to the States from occupied France in 1944.


To have a book or Web site considered for this column, send information to The WORD/The WEB, Home Design, The Times Orange County, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Mark Chalon Smith can also be reached by e-mail at

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