William Cullina has certainly got it right: In his new book, Native Ferns, Moss & Grasses (Houghton Mifflin, 2008), he calls them "Serene and Sensuous Plants for the Garden."
Cullina, director of horticultural research at the New England Wildflower Society, says the biggest threat to native plants is "habitat loss due to human activity." And if you're worried about the effect of temperature alone on some of your favorites, take a look at Cullina's projected plant hardiness zones in the year 2075: Montana in zone 6? Upper New York state in zone 7, as well as western Alaska??? Yes, it is quite frightening, and all the more reason to read this very informative and delightful book.
Cullina is one of the country's most appealing horticultural writers. It's not only his vast knowledge about plants. I can't think of anyone else in the business today who writes so descriptively about plants. The maidenhair fern, he says, has a "calming and electrifying" visual appearance ... "much like the view of of a frolicking city at night from a distance."
He compares Equisetum (Horsetail) to "aging rockers who trudge on wearily year after year singing the same tired hit that ... thrust them into the limelight 40 years ago." And Climbing Fern (Lygodium palmatum) is "an enigma rapped in a riddle topped with a glaze of mystery."
For each plant group, Cullina starts with an introduction to the species, tells you about their anatomy and habitat, and how to grow them. There are special sections as well on why certain plants thrive in soil derived from serpentine rock; types of lawn that can be established with native grasses; why evolution is difficult to study.
The book contains some 300 color photographs, many of which were taken by Cullina himself. And believe me, the fern photos are some of the best I've ever seen -- a great guide for identification.
Cullina's previous books include Wildflowers; Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines, and Understanding Orchids: An Uncomplicated Guide to Growing the World's Most Exotic Plants.
He next book is entitled Understanding Perennials.
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