Better late than never... the March book-of-the-month offering:
The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean
The story of John Laroche, a plant dealer who was arrested in 1994 for poaching orchids from a Florida state park, is the jumping off point for New Yorker staff writer Susan Orlean's The Orchid Thief.
Seeking to understand the man behind the headline, Orlean spent two years among Florida's orchid fanciers. The result is an engaging book with a similar feel to Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The history and character of Southern Florida are as integral to the story as the feverish nature of botanical collecting and Orlean weaves the threads together with both precision and humor.
The Orchid Thief is indeed as its subtitle suggests "a true story of beauty and obsession."
My favorite line in the book: "The English have especially felonious urges toward orchids." The passage continues "Kew Gardens has to display its orchids behind shatterproof glass and surrounded by surveillance cameras the way Tiffany's displays its jewels. In 1993 a rare six-foot-tall monkey orchid with light pink flowers bloomed near London, and the Naturalists' Trust had to hire two security guards to stand watch and protect the plant from collectors" (156).