Wildflower Wonders: The 50 Best Wildflower Sites in the World

For many years, Pacific Horticulture Society has sponsored tours to distant lands, with the specific intent of seeing plants growing in the wild that we grow in our gardens here in the West. For some on these tours, the pleasure was simply in seeing beautiful wildflowers growing with abandon; for others, satisfaction came from studying the natural habitat and associations, providing insights into the cultivation of these plants at home. We’ve visited southern Spain, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and, most recently, Sicily and Chile.

Whether or not you’ve been on one of PHS’s wildflower tours, this new book by Bob Gibbons will be a mouthwatering treat. Gibbons has traveled the world to find the floweriest wildflower locales and incorporates fifty of those destinations in Wildflower Wonders. With stunning close-up images and wide-angle panoramas, he captures the excitement of the floral world, untouched (or at least relatively so) by human hands.

With a minimum of narrative, Gibbons entices us to travel the world with him to see firsthand these outstanding wildflower displays. Organizing the book by continent, he covers areas ranging from coastal bluffs to high alpine regions, with prairies and steppes well represented. Many of his top regions are within driving distance of anyone living on the West Coast: the Olympic Mountains, Mount Rainier, the Klamath-Siskiyou region, the Carrizo Plain, the Tehachapis, and Anza-Borrego Desert.

For those willing to leave North America, Gibbons teases with the Outer Hebrides, the French Pyrenees, Italy’s Dolomites, Mount Parnassus in Greece, the highlands of Turkey and much of Asia, southwestern Australia, and, my personal favorite, the Cape Province of South Africa. For each destination, he provides concise information on the reasons to visit, the season of peak flowering, and the status of any protected lands in the area. The appendices provide contact information for many of the destinations and for tour agents who work in those regions, as well as an index to the common names and their scientific equivalents for the plants discussed in the text and shown in the photographs.

It is, of course, the photographs that will draw plant enthusiasts to Wildflower Wonders, but the imagination will be piqued by his stories and the ease with which an extensive bucket list of places to visit could be developed. Perhaps even Pacific Horticulture will be visiting more of these entrancing locales.

Richard G Turner Jr, editor