Taming Wildflowers


“A good book is like a garden carried in the pocket.”  ~Arab Proverb 


With spring still tucked away in a dream in these parts, I have been envisioning my meadow, and how it will bloom this year.  Will there be even more lupines, like those above?  Will the milkweed take hold and the Joe Pye spread.  How about the Mountain Mint and Helenium?  Will I see them spread instead of the thistle and teasel?

The meadow is the wild area where I love to see natives grow and take over while eradicating the aggressive weeds IMG_1551that were here when the land was developed.  The birds and pollinators love this spot as much as I do, and they have multiplied since we have been cultivating the native wildflowers.

When I saw the title of this book, I thought…what a perfect title for dealing with wildflowers as the name says they are …WILD-flowers.  Of course I am interested in any book about wildflowers, especially native wildflowers.  I have had a long term affection for these flowers.

And what a treat to read a book by an author you know.  I got to know Miriam Goldberger through social networks where I learned she has a nursery in Ontario just a few hours North of me.  And what better person to write a book about wildflowers than the owner of the Wildflower Farm.



Taming Wildflowers: Bringing the Beauty and Splendor of Nature’s Blooms into Your Own Backyard



Author:  Miriam Goldberger

Paperback:  208 pages

Publisher:   St. Lynn’s Press (March 6, 2014)

Amazon Price:  $14.22 (Hardcover)



In A Few Words

Miriam’s book is not just about growing and using wildflowers, but she also delves into her passion for wildflowers and how she came to love and grow these native plants.  In the introduction, we learn how Miriam came to love flowers through her mother’s passion for growing indoor plants and collecting floral art.  As she says,

“my daily exposure to this artwork was an obvious indicator that I was destined, programmed, nurtured-cultivated, if you will-to fall in love with flowers.”

IMG_1830In the first two chapters, Miriam tells the story of the interconnection of man and wildflowers, and pollinators and wildflowers.  These relationships are important parts of the story that Miriam cleverly uses to set the stage for why wildflowers have such importance for our planet.  She also goes into the differences between invasives, aliens, naturalized plants, heirlooms, open pollinated and cross pollinated plants.

The next chapter goes into Miriam’s main picks for wildflowers to grow.  She has arranged these by bloom time, which helps when planning a garden that you want to bloom in all 3 seasons.  In this chapter she first gives you some basics about the propagation of wildflowers.  Then each plant is profiled with a description, picture, and basic info on light, soil, moisture, height, color, germination, container growing, salt tolerance, deer resistance, and whether it is edible.  Also included is where the plant grows as a native and its pollination partners.  I found this last category so interesting since I plan to watch who is pollinating my wildflowers this year.  This will certainly help get me started.

IMG_2003Miriam also has a whole chapter on non-native wildflowers (heirlooms, herbs and vegetables), many I do not currently grow.  Some that were new to me were Mexican Sunflower, Honeywort, Lion’s Tail and Zulu Daisy.  There is also a chapter on how to make wildflower babies that is a great resource.  And she gives you many design ideas for using wildflowers in your gardens.

The last two chapters deal with how to harvest, use and design floral arrangements with wildflowers.  She even includes some wedding ideas.




What I Liked

There were several stories Miriam shared that I thoroughly enjoyed.  She has a wonderful way of drawing you into her story.   I related so easily to the anecdote of how she was influenced by her mother.   I was also influenced by my mom’s love of indoor flowers ( African violets) and her veg gardens not to mention my dad’s roses.

The photos in the book are stunning and for such a small book you would never know it was so jam packed with so IMG_9321many pictures and so much information.  I enjoyed her explanation of the “extraordinary reach and service” of wildflowers.  Miriam mentioned some of my favorite reasons for growing wildflowers:  attracting and sustaining wildlife, mastering extreme weather survival, erosion control, nurturing a wide range of living organisms, and hard working while giving us such a gift of their beauty.

And with the big rage these days of having your own cutting garden, why not use wildflowers.  With Miriam’s tips and pictures as a guide, I plan to use more of my wildflowers this year.

One of my favorite gardens Miriam included in her design chapter was the Edible Herbal Wildflower Garden.  I have been trying to design and build this type of garden, and now I have some more ideas of great plants to include.  Some I already include in my veg beds like borage and marigolds.

IMG_2100For me one of the key sections of a good book are the extra resources.  I  found the listing of the best wildflowers for different soil types invaluable information.

The book also provides a great summary of the different pollinators of wildflowers (including birds).  It was interesting to read the evolution of wildflowers and how they are so different today.  As Miriam explained, 90% of flowers that flourished here millions of years ago are gone and our pollinators are in jeopardy-her solution, like mine, is to grow wildflowers.




Not So MuchIMG_1542

There was absolutely nothing I didn’t like in this book.  Cover to cover it is masterful in weaving its story of the wildflower.  The only caution I have is for those on the west coast.  Included in the book, is a good mix of plants that are found throughout the US and Canada.  But of the 60 wildflowers Miriam profiles,  there were few wildflowers of the west coast  as these are very unique to that area of the continent.




Final Thoughts

You may think I might be  biased about this book because I adore wildflowers, but the book really is a fabulous IMG_8226resource for anyone growing or wanting to grow wildflowers.  Everything you need to know is here.   It is one of the best all in one books about wildflowers that includes the planning, growing, and use of these fabulous flowers.  It is important, though, to read the first two chapters before you get to the eye candy of the pictures so you have a good basic understanding of wildflowers and the living creatures that are influenced by these flowers.

So if you are looking for a low cost aesthetically pleasing way to landscape, and you want to learn some  basic biology/botany about plants and pollinators then grab a copy of this book.

You can find more information about the author and the book, at the book’s website, Taming Wildflowers.  I am excited that Miriam will also be a contributor on the 10th of each month at Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens, the sister blog of Beautiful Wildlife Gardens where I blog monthly.



Do you grow wildflowers from seed?  Do you pick your wildflowers to bring indoors to make stunning displays in a vase or container?  Which ones are your favorites for use in floral designs?




“Next time a sunrise steals your breath or a meadow of flowers leaves you speechless, remain that way.  Say nothing, and listen as heaven whispers, “Do you like it?  I did it just for you.”  ~ Max Lucado





It is not too late to join in the Seasonal Celebrations meme happening now.    Details about how to join are below.


Come Join Us:

Seasonal Celebrations is a time for marking the change of seasons and what is happening in your part of the world during this time.  I hope you will join in by creating a post telling us how you celebrate this time of year whether winter or summer or something else.  Share your traditions, holidays, gardens and celebrations in pictures, poetry or words starting March 1st.

And it seems so appropriate to collaborate with Beth and her Lessons Learned meme.  What lessons have you learned this past season of autumn here in the North and spring in the South.  Then tell us about your wishes, desires and dreams for this new season.

The rules are simple.  Just create a post that talks about lessons learned and/or seasonal celebrations.  If you are joining in for both memes please leave a comment on both our blog posts.  Or if you are choosing to join only one meme, leave a comment on that blog post.  Make sure to include a link with your comment.

Beth and I will do a summary post of our respective memes on the equinox (around the 20th of March).  And we will keep those posts linked on a page on our blog.  Your post should be linked in the weekend before the solstice to give us enough time to include your post in our summary.  And if you link in a bit late, never fear we will include it on the special blog page.  The badges here can be used in your post.   So won’t you join in the celebration!!


Next up on the blog:  Monday I will have another native plant profile.  Do you sense a theme here?  And Thursday will be time for a wrap up of your posts for Seasonal Celebrations.

I am linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Wednesday.

I hope you will join me for my posts once a month at Beautiful Wildlife Garden. See my latest post.

I can also be found blogging once a month at Vision and Verb.  I hope you enjoy my latest post.

As always, I’ll be joining Tootsie Time’s Fertilizer Friday.sharethelove

I am also joining in I Heart Macro with Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2014.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.


59 Replies to “Taming Wildflowers”

  1. This post with accompanying book sounds like a Wildflowers 101 course, Donna. If I ever did a garden, I’m sure I would be biased towards the wildflowers, so this is right up my alley. I love that you’re dreaming because spring will come to you…dare I say SOON?!?

    1. Ginnie indeed it is a Wildflower 101 course. And I dare say spring will be here soon. And we will cherish each moment of spring here whether raining or a bit of snow…just as long as it warms a bit more.

  2. I love the look and feel of a meadow. You did this on land not your own, right? I have done it to adjacent properties my clients own. The land will likely never be developed so creating these beautiful natural spaces just extended the property and gardens that they actually owned. It also gave the deer a buffer space to keep them beyond the ornamental plants on the garden proper. Like your property, the client’s properties also flank the woods. It is best of all worlds.

    1. No Donna this it is actually at the end of our property that borders the wild area that can never be developed. It is as you say a buffer between the garden and the woods. It is an irregular shape at the end of the property and won’t be developed. When I planned the garden this meadow was always in my mind and we continue to develop it albeit the hard way I have learned.

      1. Even better. I just thought because it was beyond the fence. My client’s will always be in fear their woodland gardens and meadows will be plowed under, even though the town has no plans. I did a post on these gardens a while ago. They were just installed, but now they are mature, beautiful and thriving. If only more people would add these natural spaces….

        1. Oh now I see Donna why you thought that. I adore meadows as well which is why I wanted one. Many of my neighbors wonder why I want weeds or such a messy unmowed area that looks so unkept. But I only care what the critters and I love. I will have to look up your post as I vaguely remember it. If you could ever do a follow up, I would love to see how they have progressed. Meadows definitely take patience and work at first. I agree it would be wonderful if more folks would reserve some space for natural areas.

  3. Thanks for the book tip ! Love the pictures of your Lupines . Gives us hope spring will be here someday !
    – Chris

  4. Donna, no one does better book reviews than you and if I didn’t already have Miriam’s book I’d want to buy it after reading this post.
    My gardens contain many native plants but there’s always room for more and I monitor which ones the insects are attracted to. I’ve had issues growing lupines so one of the gals from eastern Canada sent me seeds in hopes that the wild strain from out there will take in my garden.
    Have a good week!

    1. Thank you and you are too kind Judith. Mine are seed grown and I have given them free reign so they have multiplied in the last 5 or so years. It took a couple of years to get them growing. They are now jumping the fence into the back of the garden.

  5. I would love to visit this place Donna! I couldn’t bring anything back over the border but seeds perhaps – but that is the point isn’t it? Growing wildflowers from seed. I am trying a few more flowers from seed this year – annuals. I have grown Mexican Sunflower and it is beautiful – you will love it! I love your meadow! So great to have such space for all your beautiful gardens.

    1. I hope to grow a few more annuals from seed too this summer Kathy. Love to take a trip up to Miriam’s nursery to chat with her and get some seed as well. The meadow has been the best place and the most work but well worth it.

  6. Thanks for including that caveat about the west coast. Although I’m in the PNW, I do grow eastern wildflowers in my sunny, raised, well-drained garden beds, but I also have an area that is devoted to our PNW natives, which are well-adapted to the quirks of our climate — long, wet season fall to spring, and short very dry summer. Because I do grow the eastern and mid-western wildflowers, the book would still be interesting to me. In fact, I think I would like this book a lot, it sounds like it has lots of information that I’ve seldom found in other books. My favorite wildflower is the species Echinacea purpurea — quite common, but a great plant. I do appreciate your book reviews — so very thorough. Thanks!

    1. Thank you Alison. So glad you enjoy the book reviews. I would bet you would love this book. I adore echinacea as do the critters who visit. I would love to grow more but have had a bit of the asters yellow disease so hope I can keep it controlled.

  7. Very nice book review Donna–thank you. Can you tell me if the author addressed the needs of those of us with forested back yards? I have cutting beds and veg beds near the house, but as the land stretches out towards the back acre, there is an overhead canopy of Doug Fir, Big Leaf Maple, and other pine species. Their needles aren’t the best for encouraging flower growth, although one of our natives–the trillium–comes up beautifully and naturally. We leave it alone for the wildlife (the birds really love one particular Cherry tree that is 35 feet tall), but not much really grows will all those needles.

    1. Susie there are many natives that will grow in part shaded wooded back yards in early spring and some who like more shade. I only know the eastern ones. But no the book is more to do with those that require sun or part sun. I would bet there are natives that grow through those needles but it depends if you want natives to your area or any perennials. Happy to help you figure it out!

    1. Holley I was playing with perennials as cut flowers the last year or two, but now I have some more guidance. As I start filling vases, I’ll post some pics. But it won’t happen until summer more likely as our winter is holding on. Snow covered and cold to cool. Can’t believe we have over a foot of snow still covering the whole garden.

  8. Donna, your wild flower meadow is even more impressive than I recalled. If I wanted to do this it would have to be super mini. Ah well, I will enjoy what I have and I do get inspiration from Helene from (Graphicality UK) She has an equally small garden yet grows hundreds of plants.

    1. I agree Helene is so amazing how she has designed her chock full garden. The meadow has been growing in nicely Alistair and I hope it continues to grow with wildflowers…it is a lot of work for the size I have, but a fun, small meadow type planting area would be great to see in your garden!

  9. You’ve just given me some food for thought Donna – I now have a small area behind my shed that might be a useful spot to grow some wildflowers. It would be a tiny fraction on your area but it would be nice to give it a try. Needs looking into but thanks for the inspiration!

  10. Hi Donna,

    How lovely to have your own meadow – a fantasy for me – Lupins are just wonderful and I need more in my garden. I’m not sure they like my clay soil as I always seem to eventually lose them after a few years and I’ve never known them not to last long.

    I love wildflowers and have quite a few British natives in my garden, I’m hoping in future to be able to dedicate a border or patch to just wildflowers/grasses/meadow type thing. The grasses are often larval foodplants for many Butterflies, so it’s one of the best ways to enjoy plenty of flutters 🙂 in the UK they are anyway, I’d expect it to be similar in the US? Nettles are used here too, but by far fewer species than grasses.

    1. Thank you Liz. How wonderful to use your natives to keep those flutters in the garden…they are drawn to our native flowers and grasses here too. I have one grass they like coming up on Monday.

      Lupines are tough to keep in the garden. They like to reseed and need room to move about as they pop their seed out and around. So in the meadow they seem to last and then reseed. But they do move about so they do not stay in one spot. Mine were planted by seed in very heavy clay soil.

      1. Liz I just remembered I did amend the clay by putting a top dressing of compost on the meadow so the lupine seeds had a better chance to grow.

  11. Thanks for the great book review, Donna. And your meadow is beautiful! I loved your pictures. And I especially (and have always) loved the lupines. I have found they they have a tendency to die out though even when you let them go to seed. Have you experienced that?

    1. No not in my meadow so far Sue and they have been flowering for about 5 yrs now. They have lots of room to keep moving and naturalizing. But those I planted in my garden did not survive or grow long. I have some from the meadow no naturally growing in the garden. It seems they grow better from seed, but you have to give them time and space to grow in.

  12. This is such a lovely review Donna and I think this book was made for you! Using wild flowers from your meadow for cutting also sounds like a great idea and I hope you get a chance to try that out this year.

  13. Some day I will have the meadow I have dreamed of. I tried planting a native wildflower meadow a few years ago. After a few seasons though the deer, voles, and gophers, had rearranged things beyond recognition. So after admitting defeat, I turned into the new goat pasture. Oh well, the best laid plans. That said, this book sounds lovely, so I’ll will definitely hunt it down. There will be meadow…some day!

    1. I have no doubt Clare you will finally get your meadow. The voles and deer and other wildlife frequent it, but do not harm it or rearrange it. Now my garden is another thing…

    1. Susie thank you!! I found the only way I was successful with lupines was in the meadow. They are a passion of mine.

  14. Your pics get me trembling with anticipation for more of your photos. Do you find that your lupines are relatively short-lived as perennials? My beds of lupines thrived for about 7 years before abruptly disappearing. Might be that a particularly hot summer did them in… but I’ve always sort of wondered.

    1. Oh I adore your comment Christienne and sending wishes hugs to you for a quick spring…we are snow covered and still cold here. I think lupines grown from seed last longer but need room to move as they shoot their seed out and about. Mine are moving into the garden from the meadow, so I will probably seed the back of the meadow in a yr or 2 to make sure they keep going.

    1. Thanks Elaine. I noticed that somehow I lost your posts and went back to sign up for them again. Not sure what happened, but glad you stopped by!!

  15. Wonderful book review! I have always found meadow gardens to be so pleasing. Your photographs are lovely and I especially enjoyed the photo of your Lupines. I have found Lupines to be short lived in my area until a neighbor told me she grew hers from seed. I got a lot more time out of those since I think they were more adaptable.

    1. I have found the same thing Lee. The meadow lupines grown from seed are longer-lived. Glad you enjoyed the lupines and review.

  16. Another excellent book review, Donna. If ever the farmer who leases our fields would want to give up part of the lease, I would love to make the lower field into a meadow. My husband just rolled his eyes — enough work, he’s thinking. P. x

    1. You made me laugh as mine always asked, will I have to weed the meadow again. And I always say, yes…there is always teasel and thistle to pull…the ones that stab him. I hope you get a bit of land to make your meadow Pam!!

  17. Right. I’m off to sow lupins. Haven’t seen them growing like that before. I’ve had trouble with them in the battle with slugs. I’m wondering if they’d grow through gravel.

    1. I have not had slug issues with them here Esther. Our native lupines are a perfect meadow flower here. They prefer loamy or sandy soil so I don’t think they would like the gravel. But they may seed themselves there. Mine grow in slightly amended clay and have grown wild around a decaying tree stump. I think they have a mind of their own.

      1. Have never seen anything like it – your lupin picture. But I’ve done as I said and have sown lupins in a tray and put them on a windowsill to germinate. They may. They may not. It’s old seed. I grew them a few years ago. But it’s worth a try. Mine, however, if they germinate, will not be blue. They are in a mixed packet (I don’t really like mixed packs of anything – but that’s what I have) so are likely to be in the orange/yellow/red/peach range. Thanks for the inspiration!

        1. You know how we gardeners love to inspire Esther so I am glad I could help. I love the many colors of lupines and have grown them from time to time in flower beds. Love to see how your progress.

  18. Hi Donna, sorry I’m behind in reading and missed your Seasonal Celebrations meme. I was sick with the flu and then had a bad reaction to antibiotics. I’m better now but it was a tough couple of weeks. I’ll try to catch up with your blog as soon as I can. Thank you for your recent comments. Happy Spring (when it *actually* gets here … I see no signs yet and it’s a bit discouraging)

    1. Oh my Loredana….I know about illness and complications and then getting behind. I missed you for SC but am glad you are feeling better. That is what is most important. Let’s keeping wishing for more spring-like weather as it will make us all feel so much better!! 🙂

  19. Great meadow – I am very jealous as I have wanted the opportunity to try my hand at one for some time. I also feel like I am going to buy that book – I am sure there will be lots in there I can learn.

  20. This was on my must read that list. Finally made it. I went to the wildflower website too. Very helpful. I am so looking forward to getting my wildflower areas seeded/planted.

Comments are closed.