Book Reviews of Redwood Empire Wildflowers.

1. Author Interview: "Dorothy King Young believes that even the most elaborate and formal garden cannot improve on nature's wildflowers. She does her best to preserve them, occasionally rescuing them from the path of a bulldozer as land is cleared for roads, playgrounds, and homesites. And she preserves them for posterity, too; her book Redwood Empire a guide for the wildflower seeker and includes tips on identifying unknown 'finds,' a log for recording them, a short course on botany, and encouragement for nature study.

"Mrs. Young has searched out the beauty of the forest, meadow, and shore for the past 50 years, dating from her youth on an Oregon dairy ranch. Now she and her husband, Charles Young, a retired railroad man, live comfortably on a 7-acre, heavily timbered 'ranch' near Gualala. They call it Grandpa Charley's Park, after Mr. Young, and it is the site of the annual Art in the Redwoods show of the Gualala Arts group. The stately redwoods, the soft breeze, the shafts of light, the aromatic ground cover--all are part of the natural atmosphere, the environment of beauty.

"Aside from the inspiration of nature, Mrs. Young had a more practical motivation for writing her book. Doctor's orders. An automobile accident in 1957 left her with impaired use of her hands and feet. Typing was recommended to bring the return of dexterity to her injured fingers and the book began. It was, Mrs. Young would tell you, a labor of love. She borrowed the better color slides from friends, acquaintances in the California Native Plant Society, and combined them with ones by Mr. Young. It was a happy project as well as therapeutic. Finding the best picture of a Blazing Star or the most colorful Redwood Sorrel filled many pleasant hours; the Youngs' collection of color slides fills more than 200 trays and their friends have hundreds more. Mrs. Young knew the practical things to include [in her book]; her own collection of botanical books is extensive and some cover the same subject--Redwood Empire wildflowers--but none quite as extensively or, probably, as enthusiastically.

"What the typing therapy did for Mrs. Young's hands, wandering through the redwoods did for her feet. Gradually, she's regained a cautious competence and can master even the steep slopes with her cane, then employ it to poke aside forest debris and uncover some False Pink Asparagus.

"Redwood Orchids (Calypso bulbosa) bloomed at Grandpa Charley's Park when The Press Democrat was there, and the reporter and photographer were given the Calypso tour to the site where Mrs. Young had placed the beauties in fallen logs. She'd taken them from private property, with permission of the owners, before a road crew came to straighten a bend in the road there. Most of the Calypsos had survived the transplant and bloomed; Mrs. Young's next worry was the squirrels, who like Calypso bulbs.

"When they aren't ushering interested visitors about the grounds, Mr. and Mrs. Young provide programs for garden clubs and naturalists throughout the Redwood Empire, narrating their colorful slides. They have gone as far away as Cave Junction, Oregon, on such missions. Mrs. Young's imaginative and fluent conversation tells of her background as a teacher and worker with the mentally retarded. Even then , she used flowers and growing things in class projects and found them a useful medium for 'reaching' a student. She's always dreamed, she told us, of 'having a wildflower park of my own.' Now she has. She shares it happily with her grandchildren and with visitors, some of whom are distinguished botanists and naturalists. And she shares it through her book, encouraging a new interest and awareness of wildflowers, for any reader." (Carolyn Lund, "Gualala Wildflower Ranch," The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, California, May 2, 1968)

2. "Dorothy King Young's 'eighty years of pleasant searching for wildflower beauties of the forest, the mountain meadows and the seashore' have come to fruit in this delightful little book. It gives us a glimpse of 120 of the most beautiful, unusual, and rare wildflowers in the redwood region. If one picture is worth a thousand words, this slim volume outweighs much heftier technical treatments of the regional flora in terms of identifying wildflowers. The photographs are clear and richly colorful, and the text provides useful information on habitat, general aspect of the plants, and the origin of the common and scientific names. The book weighs heavily in favor of Mrs. Young's favorite groups of plants: lilies, orchids, and pyrolas. There are no less than 58 color photographs of these plants.

"Filled with anecdotes of discovery and wonder, Mrs. Young's enthusiasm for her little green friends is everywhere apparent. She leads the novice through introductory chapters on scientific names and plant parts, and provides seasoned botanists an abundance of tidbits of information and insight. Mrs. Young is already a legend in her own right for her ability to grow some of our most fragile wildflowers. Her gardens of mossy logs have lured botanists from around the world.

"While Wildflowers gives us many tips on cultivation, Mrs. Young reminds us constantly about the dangers of exploitation and habitat destruction. Her advice is that 'Finders-keepers may be safely played with your camera.'

"It has taken four editions for Redwood Empire Wildflowers to bloom into a professional product, but Dorothy King Young has never wavered in her goal to share the wonder and joy to be found in studying wildflowers. Like Muir, Leopold and others, she knows that simple nature study is a gateway to spirituality and simple peace. While Muir would have us open ourselves and receive 'glad tidings,' Mrs. Young tells us: 'Hurry out! Trillies are poking through and zyggies are up all over the place!' " (Dwain Goforth, "Trillies and Zyggies," Econews, December 1989)

3. "Here's a fine little guide to the rich profusion of wildflowers to be found in the redwood forest areas of the west. No less that 132 color plates are used to aid identification of species, yet the book fits nicely into a back pocket or bag for easy reference during woodland rambles. Author Dorothy King Young includes with each color plate a paragraph of description to improve one's knowledge of flowers found, and she has tried to include all the flowers seen commonly at the roadside, as well as some lesser known 'jewels of the forest.' The jewels, it should be noted, include some so rare that many a botanist has lived his entire life without seeing them. Do you know the redwood orchid, for example?

"The author and her husband, Charles Young, have won broad recognition for their work to conserve the wildflower heritage of the west's Redwood Empire. To read and study and use this book is to understand why the preservation is essential and why the Youngs have won high honor for their work." (Bill Neubauer, "Wildflowers of Redwood Forest," Santa Cruz Sentinel, August 2, 1976)

4. "Dorothy Young's handbook of wildflowers of the Redwood Empire is clear and easy to follow. The 132 wildflowers are listed alphabetically by common names, with scientific names following. For each flower is given a brief description that identifies characteristics, notes on size, habitat, and the general locality and time that the flower may be found. Colored photos of each flower are numbered to coincide with flower entry number. Additional information includes a brief discussion on conservation of wildflowers, wildflower shows in the Redwood area, suggested wildflower trips, suggested references, index of common names, and index of scientific names. Previously published under the title Redwood Empire Wildflower Jewels, this third edition is an aid to identification of wildflowers in northwestern California and southwestern Oregon. There are provisions for recording date and place where each plant was found." (Mary Clotfelter, American Reference Books Annual, 1977, p. 661)