The Benefits of Growing Wildflowers

More than a charming addition to the scenery, growing wildflowers supports dwindling populations of native pollinators and ultimately benefits human populations as well as the environment.


| January 2015



Hairy penstemon

The flowers of the Hairy Beardtongue, or Penstemon hirsutus, are a light pink color.


Photo courtesy St. Lynn's Press

Growing wildflowers has never been easier, with help from Miriam Goldberger’s Taming Wildflowers (St. Lynn’s Press, 2014). With evident joy in the adaptability and tenacity of native plants, Goldberger presents information on each wildflower's native habitat, what pollinators it relies on, and how it can be used in flower arrangements or cooking. The following excerpt is from Chapter 1, “Wildflowers and Us: a Beautiful, Symbiotic Relationship.”

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Taming Wildflowers.


Flowers changed the face of the planet. Without them, the world we know – even man himself – would never have existed…Today we know that the appearance of the flowers contained also the equally mystifying emergence of man. – Loren Eiseley, “How Flowers Changed the World”

The great modern naturalist, Loren Eiseley, recognized the interlinked complexity of life on earth and placed flowers right at the center of things, along with us humans. I agree with him completely: we belong together.

Once upon a time, every single flower in the world was a wildflower. Wildflowers are as much the heartbeat of our planet as the oceans. All living creatures interact with wildflowers whether they know it or not. For 130 million years, wildflowers have blessed the earth with their amazing skill sets and stunning beauty – absolutely free of charge! But what do we really know about them beyond those Sunday drives into the country where we marvel at their colors and variety and maybe stop to pick a bouquet to take home?

Wildflowers are, without exaggeration, the unsung heroes of the planet; they are a powerful force that truly sustains a complex web of interdependent creatures. Without wildflowers our planet would not only be a sadder place, but life as we know it would not exist. You won’t ever catch wildflowers bragging about their accomplishments. They go about their business quietly, unnoticed and largely unobserved. But what work they do! I think of wildflowers as feminine beings, participating in the most nurturing, life-sustaining aspects of creation.





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