Not Once, but Twice!

I recently read Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast, A Natural History by Carol Gracie and thought it one of the best wildflower books I had ever read and, very significantly, it was one with perfect relevance to readers at this side of the Atlantic as we grow many of those very same wildflowers in our gardens. Most garden flowers are wildflowers somewhere else in the world and we seem to have a strong interest in those of Northeastern America.

Summer Wildflowers of the Northeast, A Natural History is a companion volume to Carol Gracie’s extremely successful earlier book and I so wish that I had spared some of my complimentary superlatives for this one. A book of such quality and excellence as Spring Wildflowers comes along only rarely so it is remarkable that the author and Princeton University Press have repeated the feat in such an accomplished manner.

As with the earlier volume, this is far, far more than a mere listing and description of plants for there are notes on plant history, on those for whom the plant was named, on traditional practical and medicinal uses of the plants and on its natural growing conditions which act as excellent guidelines to the gardener who wishes to grow them. A significant part of every entry is given to the pollinating insects associated with each plant and describes the interactions between plant and insect, always interesting, regularly fascinating.

The quality of the photography is outstanding and the number of photographs used is unusually generous with a dozen or more used to illustrate each species in its various stages, guises and with its usual plant and insect companions. These illustrations are perfect companions to a text which is a delight to read for it is not only extraordinarily informative, bearing the hallmark of years of fieldwork, observation and research, but is also written with passion, love and enthusiasm for the subject matter – a wonderful combination! A wonderful book!

[Summer Wildflowers of the Northeast, A Natural History, Carol Gracie, Princeton University Press, Oxfordshire, 2020, Softback, 372 pages, £25, ISBN: 9780691199344]

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