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Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | monterey county

Book Review

February 2011

Wildflowers of Garland Ranch A Field Guide

by Michael Mitchell and Rod Yeager MD

8.5” x 5.5” spiral bound
Carmel Valley

reviewed by Corky Matthews

At long last a colorful handbook is available that does justice to the myriad wildflowers found at Garland Ranch Park, the flagship of the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District. Drawing hikers, horseback riders, bicyclists, and natural history buffs from a wide area, this Carmel Valley park has never had a compact plant reference work usable by both beginners and more advanced plant enthusiasts—until now.

Over the years dozens of field trips by members of the Monterey Bay Chapter of the California Native Plant Society and the Sierra Club have resulted in a lengthy Garland Park plant list primarily authored by the late Dr. Jim Griffin, director of UC’s Hastings Reservation in upper Carmel Valley, and Lee Dittman, an early Park District employee and CNPS volunteer. But there has never been a book devoted to helping the typical flower-loving visitor identify the more than 350 species found in this remarkably floriferous parkland.

Now Michael Mitchell and Rod Yeager MD have come up with a book of elegant color photographs and succinct descriptions plus a graceful and informative text that includes a brief introduction to the park, a clear explanation of the structure of the plants, a logical rationale for their arrangement in the book, an illustrative glossary, notes on use of plants by the indigenous people, and a helpful index.

Surprisingly, the authors are a retired lawyer and a retired physician who became captivated by the flowers of this area, so different from their former homes in England and Louisiana, respectively. Their mastery of color photography enabled them to capture not only the brilliant hues of the flowers but also, their distinctive diagnostic characteristics. The authors note that an additional purpose of the book is to serve users “as a reminder of the beauty that they experienced when visiting the park.”

As this issue of The Ventana goes to press, the books are expected to be available at the park and elsewhere by early March. For further information, please email or visit Dr. Yeager’s wildflower website,

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