The Botanic Garden Collection


Allium Here's a cool idea.  The seed company Botanical Interests has rolled out a line of seeds called the Botanic Garden Series.  Their idea was to work with botanic gardens to identify native flowers that were in danger of disappearing, and to offer those seeds for sale as a way of repatriating them.  Holland's Hortus Bulborum has done something similar:  they cultivate and sell rare bulbs in the hopes that scattering them in gardens around the world will act as a kind of insurance policy against their own gene bank getting wiped out.

Here's what Botanical Interests has to say about their new collection:

Plant species are
constantly being lost throughout the world as a result of habitat loss,
climate change, pollution, insect and disease problems, and even
over-collection. Botanical Interests is very pleased to be working with
botanic gardens throughout the U.S. to protect species that are rare
and endangered or may become so if not maintained. As gardeners we can
feel good about adding these attractive, adaptable treasures to our
gardens. By planting them, we become responsible stewards of the
environment and give a gift back to nature.

The series includes asters, alliums, penstemons, salvias, and any number of other such lovely things.  There are fourteen varieties in all, and Botanical Interests is giving away the complete collection some clever GardenRant commenter.  Tell us about the rare, endangered, or simply beautiful native you'd most like to see included in a collection like this, and all fourteen varieties will be yours to try. 

Winners announced next week–be sure that in your comment you leave a way for us to contact you, or check back next week to see if you've won!  Good luck.


  1. But where are the woods plants? They all seem to be prairie flowers. Nothing against them, but if I am going to plant endangered native plants I want the ones that are native to my area, the unglaciated Allagheny plateau. And my part of the country was all wooded when the Settlers arrived. Something about a squirrl could cross the Ohio Valley and never touch the ground.

  2. I tried unsuccessfully to transplant Vernonia noveboracensis, Ironweed this spring. Its late summer, deep purple head on tall shoulders is worth thievery to fancy ladies passing by in SUV’s. Of the wildflowers here it is the least generous in number. I need more, so enough of it will be left for me.

    I spotted one seedling in the wrong place that I will try to move, hopefully with more success. One more however is not enough in this massive space. Naturally my thoughts turned to collecting the seed this fall and germinating them in pots to be planted in the right wildflower meadow spot.

    Has Botanical Interests already collected Ironweed seed?

  3. I see on the Botanical Interests site this program is, so far, exclusive to the Denver Botanic Gardens. With Bot. Int. based out of nearby Broomfield, CO, it makes sense to start with our region (I live an hour North of the DBG in Fort Collins). I do hope the program expands to other regions, too.

    One of the plants I love most here in CO is (what I think is) Western Dock, maybe Golden Dock. As the Front Range continues to be developed, our plains and wetland areas are being overrun by turfgrass, calamagrostis acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ and parking lots. I’d love to see the native herb celebrated and protected — if not in its natural habitat, in our Front Range gardens.

    PS Yay Little Blue Stem!!! Well done, Botanical Interests!!!

  4. I’m pretty impressed with yellow coneflower, though I’m surprised to learn that it’s in danger of disappearing. For the last couple weeks, I’ve been seeing them everywhere along the sides of the roads here in Iowa. Ditto for hoary vervain and compass plant.

  5. In our area, many of our native wildflowers have been pushed out by knapweed. The native lupins, bitterroots and shooting stars, along with many native grasses are being carefully cultivated my many locals in order to preserve them. The bitterroots are my favorite, but can be challenging to cultivate. I would love to have some in my garden!

  6. I’m already a fan of purple coneflower & have several of them growing in my yard. I’d love to try the yellow & the cutleaf varieties for contrast & extra interest. Even better, if I won this collection I could share it with my sister – a resident of Broomfield CO, & also an avid gardener – & the plants would get wider dispersal.

  7. Showy Tick Trefoil! A beautiful native plant (at least here) in the legume family, lovely sets-of-three leaves in a lovely dark green, spires of little flowers in an indescribably beautiful shade of purplish pink. Not endangered (grows well in my native plant garden), but beautiful.

  8. For me it’s a tie between leafy prairie clover (Dalea foliosa) and eastern prairie fringed orchid (Platanthera leucophaea) because they’re, respectively, federally endangered and threatened. Here in Illinois they thrived in tough places. Leafy prairie clover was first discovered in the 1800s near my home in our super-alkaline soils, but it’s been struggling for years.

  9. I think many of the Mentzelias (Loasaceae) deserve more attention from gardeners. The ones I’ve worked with have all germinated readily and grown well w/out a lot of water. The flowers are singluarly beautiful and many are fragrant (rare in a wildflower). Bugs like them too.

  10. A good garden book is the Undaunted garden by Lauren Springer. It’s about a garden that’s beaten by hail in Denver in July. The place I like most is my tended garden. It’s scorched to hell.

  11. As a volunteer propagator of ~80 species of California native grasses at the SF Botanical Garden nursery, I must put in a plug for the perennially (excuse the pun) underappreciated sedges, rushes and grasses. Our best sellers are Calamagrostis foliosa, Festuca idahoensis and Juncus effusus – many of these are also drought tolerant when established and are finally being widely used in CA landscaping, judging from all the strip malls I’ve been visiting lately in my new home of San José. Go grasses!

  12. My first thought is Indian Paintbrush. It’s not endangered that I know of, I think I could find it sold in someone’s wildflower seed collection. I choose it because it was the first flower that was mine. We camped when I was growing up in the High Sierras at a place called, Lundy Lake. There were three of us kids, and each of us, and our parents had their own flower. Mine was Indian Paintbrush.

  13. I’m laughing because Allium cernuum is threatening to turn into a weed in my garden. Every year I pull out dozens of its bulbs & I religiously deadhead it. It is a cool plant, though.
    I’d like to see Mead’s Milkweed (Asclepias meadii) in the colletion.

  14. How about plants from the pacific northwest? Such as abronia umbellata, Koehler’s rockcress, the Umpqua mariposa lily, Cook’s lomatium. There’s hundreds out here that could work.

  15. I would love to see Golden Seal included in this collection. It is native to the Northeast and is endangered. It is considered valuable as a medicinal herb but also is a very pretty plant. It has a lovely white flower followed by a red seed head that is quite ornamental.

  16. I love that Botanical Interests is working to help restore natives. I think the slender rose gentian is gorgeous — it looks like a bright pink star. It’s native to many states, and it’s listed as endangered in several of those. For something tall and different, the false gaura is appealing. It’s a big bee attracter with all its nectar. Thanks, Botanical Interests!

  17. Today’s speed and technology could work in favour of the natural world in spreading the beauty of the native bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis. This lovely woodland wildflower with its pure white blooms and scalloped leaves can be propagated by seed — but only when the seed is fresh and moist. Carefully packaged and zipped to waiting gardens, the seeds can be sown in rich, moist, humusy soil in semi-shade to produce gently expanding bouquets in springs to come.

  18. This summer I began searching for a source for Queen-of-the-Prairie, so that is on my list. I’ve also very fond of rattlesnake master and some of the various gentians. All on the endangered list here in Michigan.

  19. Any of the alliums make my heart go a-flutter. They have such delicate blooms while the scent/flavor keeps our mule deer at bay.

    Lucky me to live on the Front Range near DBC!

  20. Christopher C, Prairie Moon Nursery in Montana/Wisconsin sells Vernonia noveboracensis seed. Unfortunately the seed is difficult to germinate (I winter-sowed it and didn’t get any seedlings) so I wound up planting bareroots of common ironweed, Vernonia fasciculata. It is very similar, and is getting ready to bloom.

    Three of the plants on Maine’s endangered list are great blue lobelia, wild lupine (has been almost wiped out by hybridization from cultivars), and northern blazing star, liatris scariosa v borealis. Lobelia especially is easy to start from seed, so I hope the collection includes it.

    I recently discovered the lists of endangered plants by state at the USDA PLANTS database at — it’s a link on the home page.

    A good companion to that is the lists of noxious/invasive plants by state, which doesn’t discriminate between native and exotic. Very interesting reading!

  21. I live in Ontario, Canada and would love to see Trillium included in the series, along with Prickly Pear Cactus and Canada Anemone. All native to Ontario and very pretty!

  22. I was taking a look at a list of rare CA natives and Campanula exigua strikes me as one that’s pretty enough to attract gardeners, yet rare. And its native habitat of chaparral means it should be fairly drought tolerant.

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