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
  • Smooth penstemon
    Penstemon digitalis, or Smooth Penstemon, has brilliant white flowers.
    Photo courtesy St. Lynn's Press
  • Taming Wildflowers
    Wildflower farmer and floral designer Miriam Goldberger demonstrates how to cultivate hardy native wildflowers in your own garden in "Taming Wildflowers." Detailed profiles with growing information, pollinators and native regions accompany gorgeous photos of wildflowers and other native plants.
    Cover courtesy St. Lynn's Press

  • Hairy penstemon
  • Smooth penstemon
  • Taming Wildflowers

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.

okpkpkp
9/17/2018 9:06:48 PM

Talk about alien invasion. I can no longer plant in the "earth" our home sits on. 50 years ago the previous owner planted Trumpet Vines on the other side of where the fence is now. It used to be a country lane but is now a highway. The vines spread by underground runners. When I moved in 20 years ago, they were climbing on the house. I chopped them all down, the ones I could get at on this side of the cyclone (plus our wooden) fence. I talked with Ca. Dept of Trans (CalTrans) and they determined the vines were growing between the fences, so it wasn't his problem. The plants themselves are on his side but I don't want them spraying poison again so I just deal with it the best I can. I have been "over" the fence three times now, cutting back the vines each time, but they grow back, with vigor. So, I grow in raised beds and pots, both terracotta and cloth, cutting back the vines that pop up everywhere in the backyard. Even through the concrete patio. So, don't plant Trumpet Vines and then ignore them for decades. Invasive is too nice a word...




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