Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Taming Wildflowers, a book review

When offered the opportunity to review “Taming Wildflowers” which entails bringing the beauty and spender of nature’s blooms into your own backyard by Miriam Goldberger, I knew right away it would be a good book.  Goldberger and husband Paul Jenkins own Wildflower Farm in Coldwater, Ontario which is just north of where I live, and she has been an admirable speaker on the garden club circuit for years.  The presentations are interesting and educate while motivating the audience.  There’s often a stash of plants brought along for sale too.
Goldberger writes in the same easy manner as she speaks, she’s a storyteller whose passion for flowers define and illuminate her world.  As her appreciation of flowers grew to include wildflowers, Goldberger realized how they noticeably attracted the birds and butterflies and initiated her own motto “there is no such thing as too many flowers.”
Wildflowers are native plants or indigenous ones that control soil erosion, have low water needs, attract pollinators, adapt to climate , provide habitat and help coordinate an ecosystem.  What is there not to like about wildflowers?
Mankind has a symbiotic relationship with wildflowers as we’ve been interacting for millions of years.  From an early age we’ve all been influenced by the presence of flowers whether from picking, drawing or painting them.
There’s a report card chart in the book with the achievements of wildflowers which score high because they are programmed for survival.  They are cost effective, if started from seed, and aesthetically pleasing to grow.  Methods of pollination by wind, animals, birds, butterflies, insects and humans are discussed and their long term effects.
A heart warming story about Dana is related who has a tattoo of wildflowers down her back as a tribute to her mother and her connection to the earth.  Bravo to Dana for sharing her beautiful tattoo in the book.
Goldberger supplies generously what the reader is craving, gorgeous colour photos of 60 of her favourite wildflowers.  The usual stats of height, bloom time, soil etc. are included as well as if they are salt tolerant which is important in our northern winter conditions.
Where the plant is native in the US and Canada is listed and pollinator partners.
It’s noted that many spring wildflowers are ephemeral, meaning they grow leaves and flowers then silently slip away to sleep until the following spring.
The plants are divided into families that bloom in early spring, late spring/early summer, the heart of summer and the fall families.
There are instructions on how to grow wildflowers from seed and plant them out, along with non-native recommendations.  Some fascinating sections include how to grow your own meadow garden, an edible herbal garden and a scree garden while learning from Goldberger’s mistakes.
Harvesting wildflowers, designing floral arrangements with them and creating wreaths make for some interesting reading.
The book concludes with instructions for a do-it-yourself wildflower wedding with a gallery of wedding photos and finally, wildflowers listed by soil type.
As a gardener who also appreciates the benefits of native plants, Taming Wildflowers has a special place in my bookcase for reference, photo identification and inspiring ideas.
Wildflower Farm can be found here and there is a link to order Taming Wildflowers.


  1. Very interesting. I haven't had much luck with my wildflower sowing in the past. I'm doing well with a mossy lawn, though!

  2. Sounds like a sound investment for flower lovers in N.America. there are times I really wish I were back in the Northern Hemisphere.

  3. Sounds like a wonderful book!!

  4. sounds very interesting and the cover photo is gorgeous!! Did you read the whole book yet?

  5. That's pretty interesting, Judith. I planted a wildflower garden once when we lived in Alaska. They were beautiful - but didn't do well over-wintering.

  6. Thank you for the review! I used to grow coneflowers at our former place.

  7. Judith - Thank you for such a lovely review of my book. I greatly appreciate it!!

    Montanagirl - I would imagine that the reason the wildflowers you planted didn't winter over well is because they were actually annuals posing as "wildflowers." This happens a lot because most flowers labeled wildflowers are just annuals. The kind of wildflowers I talk about in Taming Wildflowers do in fact grow successfully in Alaska!!! - Miriam

  8. My friend will be particularly interested in this. She has a wild flowers garden. Thanks.

  9. IT does sound like a good book. Thanks for the review.

  10. I bought a book a few years ago...a guide to identifying wild flowers and it is wonderful, although it is only identification...:)JP

  11. I do love wildflowers and would like to grow more of them myself. Thanks for the review!

  12. You make me want to add wildflowers to my garden.

  13. Hi Judith,
    As you say: "What is there not to like about wildflowers?"
    A bunch of wildflowers in a vase on a table will always be a pretty sight!
    Have a lovely weekend!

  14. I just finished my review of Miriam's book and it will be up on my blog Monday. How wonderful to read your review too Judith. I loved this book.


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