The Natural Gardens of North Carolina

Revised Edition

By B. W. Wells

With an introduction and afterword by Lawrence S. Earley and an appendix on scientific nomenclature by James W. Hardin; drawings by Dorothy S. Wilbur-Brooks

290 pp., 7 x 10, 40 color / 64 b&w illus., appends., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4993-4
    Published: November 2002
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-2592-8
    Published: December 2015
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-7221-0
    Published: December 2015

Chapel Hill Books

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For seventy years, The Natural Gardens of North Carolina has been a must-read volume for anyone interested in wildflowers, native plants, ecology, or conservation in the state. This handsome revised edition features new line drawings and color photographs, an appendix that updates the botanical nomenclature, an introduction that focuses on B. W. Wells and his passion for the state's landscape, and an afterword that discusses the continuing relevance of Wells's ideas.

One of the first scientists to write and lecture about ecology, Wells introduced North Carolinians to the extraordinary tapestry of "natural gardens," or plant communities, within the state's borders back in 1932. His purpose was to help readers understand a plant within its community--a pioneering concept at the time--and to promote conservation. Moving from the Atlantic coast westward, Wells identifies eleven major natural gardens: the sand dune community, salt marsh, freshwater marsh, swamp forest, aquatic vegetation, evergreen shrub bog (or pocosin), grass-sedge bog (or savanna), sandhill, old-field community, upland forest, and high mountain spruce-fir forest. He devotes the first part of his book to a general account of the vegetation and habitats of each community and then identifies and describes the wildflowers found there.

About the Author

The late B. W. Wells (1884-1978) was professor and chair of the Department of Botany at North Carolina State College in Raleigh from 1919 to 1949. He was a pioneer in the field of ecology and an ardent conservationist.
For more information about B. W. Wells, visit the Author Page.


"A book for anyone concerned with native plants and their future."--Country Gardens

"This revised edition enriches the original by featuring color photographs, new line drawings, and an appendix that modernizes botanical terminology."--Our State

"A real contribution to botanical literature."--Nature

"If you want to appreciate the plants of North Carolina, you need to become acquainted with B.W. Wells' Natural Gardens."--The Carrboro Citizen

"It is seldom that scientific exactness and charm of description go hand in hand, but Professor Wells has combined these happily."--Asheville Citizen

"The best-known contribution by Bertram Whittier Wells to popular literature on botany and plant ecology of North Carolina. . . . Anyone with a love of North Carolina's natural history must read, and will undoubtedly want to own, this revised edition of The Natural Gardens of North Carolina."--Southeastern Biology