by BOB QUARTERONI
"It is a bad soil where no flowers will grow," said Thomas
Fuller in 1732. Working on that premise, the U.S.
Department of Agriculture has "domesticated" three
grow-anywhere prairie wildflowers (see photos above) and
begun selling certified seed to commercial growers (see
addresses below). The good news for gardeners is that
beginning this fall, these growers will offer the
wildflower seeds to the general public for the first time.
The three wildflowers in questionmysteriously named Kaneb,
Eureka, and Nekan--were selected by the USDA after ten
years of testing, primarily for the plants' ability to
control soil erosion and (at the same time) beautify
pastures, rangelands, and roadsides. Each one is hardy,
easy to grow, and-in general-perfectly suited to gardening.
The first plant-Kaneb, a purple prairie clover-looks like a
cross between a thistle and a cattail. Like its stylish
cou. sin the peanut, Kaneb is a legume: it takes its
nitrogen from the air and thus grows well In nitrogen-poor
soils. Animals can graze Kaneb without harm, and the plant
is said to withstand extremes of temperature and moisture
If you like lavender, you'll love Eureka. This wildflower-a
lovely lavender gayfeather that requires no maintenance and
can grow up to five feet tall -was developed to beautify
highways, but it can easily be adapted to home gardens,
driveways, fences, etc.
Nakan--a pitcher sage that the USDA has recently
domesticated-is actually a mint with woolly foliage and
large, white flowers. It's said to be capable of
strengthening prairie grazing land, serving as forage for
large and small stock, and acting as a breath freshener for
Wildflowers (the above three especially) are easy to grow.
 No cultivating. (If weeding is necessary, do it by
 No herbicides.
 No chemical fertilizers. (Compost works much better.)
 Always cover the bare earth around wildflowers with
mulch . . . at least until the plants are well established.
For information on how to order the above wildflower
varieties, contact Stock Seed Farms, Inc., RR 1, Box 112,
Murdock, Neb. 68407, or Sharp Brothers Seed Co., Box 140,
Healy, Kan. 76850 . . . and enclose a little something to
cover the cost of a reply.