Friday, April 25, 2014

UNCC's Mellichamp: Native Plants of the Southeast

Repeat after me: Asarum canadense. Oenothera fruticosa. Ipomoea pandurata.
Never mind. You can enjoy this gorgeously photographed and intelligently-written book without having to utter one sound. "Native Plants of the Southeast: A Comprehensive Guide to the Best 460 Species for the Garden" (Timber Press, $39.95) is by Larry Mellichamp, professsor of botany at UNCC and director of the university's 5,000 square foot botanical garden of exotic plants from around the world. The 542 stunning color photographs are by veteran photographer and certified native plant specialist Will Stuart.
Mellichamp is a bit of a philosopher, one who occasionally waxes lyrical.
Listen to his introduction to the section on wildflowers:
"What is it about flowers that makes us want to pick them (simple beauty), to give them as gestures of love (for an anniversary), of bereavement (at funerals), of hope (at weddings), of accomplishments (flowers on stage)? I don't think our analytical minds want to examine the architectural structure of a rose bud upon first encounter, nor are we initially fascinated by the mathematics of the spiral patterns of the florets in a sunflower head, nor do we care that the flower must be pollinated  to produce fruit and seeds. No, there must be some fundamental trait in the human psyche that draws us to flowers."
A pleasure to read, and a useful guide to the infinite possibilities for plantings in our very own gardens.


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