Before Christmas, my husband and I had dinner with the wildflower queen herself, Miriam Goldberger, and her husband Paul Jenkins. We see them once or twice a year, because their company, Wildflower Farms, based in Coldwater, Ontario, has a Buffalo distribution center. After the events of 9/11/01 and the subsequent anthrax scares, it was no longer possible to mail seeds from Canada to the U.S. without paying inspection fees that could add $75 to the cost of each pack of seeds. In order to serve their U.S. customers and stay competitive, Wildflower Farms has a US-based warehouse and distribution center.
As many of you may know, Miriam published a lovely book about wildflowers, Taming Wildflowers, in 2014. If you follow her on Facebook, you know she posts images of gorgeous wildflowers in her Ontario fields all year round, even in winter. And some of us (not me, sadly) visited Wildflower Farms as an extra garden bloggers’ Fling trip last June.
Finally, I was able to connect Miriam and Paul with artist Jenny Kendler last summer, and they provided all the seeds for Kendler’s Community Seed Station project, in which Buffalo residents could obtain milkweed and other seeds aimed at pollinators from centrally located kiosks.
I’m pleased to say that Miriam and Paul left me with a huge box of seeds. Even after I gave some away as holiday gifts, others to a public school project, and a big bunch went to a friend who creates sustainable, wildlife-friendly landscapes, I still have quite a few packs left. And some of these are varieties I’ve never (or rarely) heard of. For example:
Canada Tick Trefoil (Desmodium canadense):
These are tall, pretty plants, kind of a like wild sweet peas. Indeed, they do belong to the pea family.
Sideoats Gramma (Bouteloua curtipendula)
This is a beautiful blue-green drought-tolerant grass. It’s actually listed as endangered in Michigan.
Wild Senna (Senna hebecarpa)
Here’s another endangered plant (in some areas). It gets very tall and has yellow flowers in high summer. Some varieties have been used for what we now call “cleansing;” it’s often mentioned in 19th century literature as medicinal.
You can look up more information about these, and I have lots of other interesting varieties, including the more common asclepias, heliopsis, and rudbeckia varieties. Would you like some? Leave a comment about how you’ll be using wildflowers this year. I’ll give 6-10 packs to about 10 of you (depending on when I run out), chosen at random.