University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Perennial Publications : Book of the Month

Guide to Growing and Propagating Wildflowers of the United States and Canada
William Cullina.   2000.  Houghton Mifflin.  322pp, hardcover.

Whether interested in a few wildflowers on your own property, or in the business commercially of producing and designing, this extensive reference will be of great value.  It provides details on growing and propagating 200 genera and 1,000 species, with many crisp and artistic color photos, and plenty of other background information in order to better understand and have success with wildflowers.

Although a publication of the New England Wildflower Society, of which the author is the nursery manager and propagator, this name is misleading.  This 100-year old organization, even though based near Boston, is concerned with the preservation of all North American flora.

The book opens with some general notes on cultivation, names and such.  It then provides a map of the 9 floristic regions of North America, and descriptions of each in order to better understand where various wildflowers come from, and so how they might best be grown for success. Most of the book is an A-Z listing of flowers, most with a photo, often a close up of the flower or seeds.  For each plant is given hardiness zones, soil type, native habitat, size, color, in addition to further description such as of culture, used and propagation. At the end are pages of useful tables: in depth seed germination procedures, lists for various uses, and sources.

The author's philosophy permeates the book, and deserves special mention for it is central to why gardeners should be concerned with this topic, especially those in urban and suburban areas.  It provides a new paradigm for thinking of our own landscapes, considering the garden as not merely an extension of the house, a place for our use and enjoyment, but a habitat we share with plants and the animals that depend on them for food and shelter.  As he writes: "There is value in preserving wilderness, but there is equal value in restoring the suburbs and cities where most of use live to something closer to balance-- for our children's sake and the sake of all the other species around us.  Growing wildflowers is not only fun and easy, it fosters a genuine connection with the region you live in."

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