Science Says

How about some weird wildflower seeds?

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Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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:

Jennifer Anderson, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

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.

Public domain

Sideoats Gramma (Bouteloua curtipendula)
This is a beautiful blue-green drought-tolerant grass. It’s actually listed as endangered in Michigan.

Photo by George H. Bruso

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.

Posted by

Elizabeth Licata
on January 12, 2016 at 8:27 am, in the category Gardening on the Planet.


  1. I have part of my very large yard that is a pain to get to and mow. I’d much rather have wildflowers growing there! It is really a lovely part of the yard–good drainage, full sunlight, but not really usable space. Wildflowers would totally make it “usable” if for no other reasons that the beauty and the flowers for the wildlife.

  2. Oh these sound lovely. We garden in Piedmont NC just south of Chapel Hill. I have a new garden – no lawn, no pesticides and I am in process of adding more grasses and perennials to the new garden, attracting birds and moths and butterflies. I have both sun and shade , dry and damp locations. These items would become jus great so please add me to your list

  3. I’d love to be in the drawing! I use wildflowers for the pollinators, my yard’s a Best of Texas Backyards and I always manage to find somewhere to squeeze something new in amongst the native staples. I’m in north Texas with heavy clay right smack in a little strip of blackland prairie.

  4. Please include me, too! I have been trying to add more native and pollinator-friendly plants in my garden, but they can be hard to find. sometimes seed is the best way to go.

  5. These native species will be great additions to three residential gardens where natives are the focus in prairie regions of Indiana. Thanks for any types you can share.

  6. I harvested some milkweed pods last fall, still have to separate the seeds and stratify. Our community garden has had its ups and downs over four seasons, but this year looks promising. We’re going to try some naturalizing in the hard clay around the raised beds. Well, maybe a little amendment, but it just encourages the bindweed.

  7. My husband and I have a couple of acres in northwest New Jersey that we’re slowly but surely transforming using permaculture principles. Since we keep bees and have a 4,800sf vegetable garden, we’re always looking to attract pollinators. Plus we’re shrinking the still-sizeable lawn a little every year by introducing native plants and perennials to the property, so your weird wildflowers would be a great addition!

  8. Please enter me in the drawing. These seeds would be for my partner, who just bought a small farm in the Wilmington, NC, area. He would like to turn one of the front fields, near the entrance, into a beautiful wildflower meadow. Thanks very much for the opportunity.

  9. I’d like to enter on behalf of the Memorial Park Block Club in downtown Niagara Falls. This year will be our inaugural “Black Squirrel Garden Walk.” This garden walk is a neighborhood attempt to (i.) strengthen community bonds, (ii.) highlight the beautiful architectural details of our historic homes and (iii.) show the outside world that our neighborhood is both safe and beautiful. In essence, our garden walk wants to show that older neighborhoods in Niagara Falls matter and are worth saving. We will be doing plantings in public spaces and provide materials and labor to some less fortunate neighbors so they can create their own gardens.

  10. Please enter my name in the giveaway. Our community must fill in a small farm pond in our common area. I have been asked to make the area a wildflower patch. We could use the seeds to add to our planned diversity. Thanks

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