Joyce d'Avranche had always been the poor and ignored member of the d'Avranche family of Helmingham Hall. Her childhood had been one of hardship, and over her dead mother hung the disgrace of an old scandal. Then, when the legitimate heir went missing on an Amazon exploration, Joyce was brought to Helmingham and told she could well be the new owner of the beautiful old house and garden.
Almost at once she fell in love with it and wanted, more than anything, to possess it. But her background had not prepared her for the running of a huge estate. Everything she did was wrong and her only friend was Rose, wife of the head gardener. Rose, too, had sorrows to bear. Barren, in spite of her longing for a child, she sublimated her sadness in the gardens of Helmingham, concentrating all her energy on the breeding of a new flower - the Helmingham Rose.
As the two young women watched the gradual unfurling of the perfect flower, so their own lives moved towards maturity and unexpected happiness.