Book Review: Chlorophyll in His Veins

Chlorophyll in His VeinsChlorophyll in His Veins: J. C. Raulston, Horticultural Ambassador
by Bobby J. Ward
352 pages
BJW Books, 2009
List price: $25.00

As a fairly new gardener (six years), I’d heard the name J.C. Raulston and knew it was important in the horticulture world, but never really took the time to find out just why. So when I got the opportunity to review Chlorophyll in His Veins, I enthusiastically agreed.

Those who are accomplished individuals in any field fascinate me.  Usually they’ve made important contributions and as I was to find out, J.C. Raulston certainly is no exception. The arboretum at North Carolina State University bears his name and for good reason. Raulston founded it in 1976 and his relentless pursuit of his life’s work has contributed a wealth of information and plants to the world of horticulture. So much of it has been of direct benefit to the home gardener.

Ward chronicles much of Raulston’s personal life, but making the story even more complete is the inclusion of several of Raulston’s lectures, which allows us to hear his “voice.” I especially enjoyed Raulston’s “Untangling the Hardiness Question: What is Hardy and Why?”  Notes on his plant introductions tell me I likely have Raulston, who died in 1996 at age 56, to thank for the Cornus kousa in my garden.

I have a confession to make. When I first started reading this book, I wondered how I was going to make it all the way through without getting a bit bored. How wrong I was! While it’s not riveting, I found myself not being able to skim through it.  Raulston’s fascinating and full life was anything but boring and Ward’s account of it isn’t either.
Bobby J. Ward lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is a native North Carolinian who received an undergraduate degree in biology from East Carolina University and masters and doctorate degrees in botany and plant physiology from North Carolina State University.

Bobby is the author of four books. He has written for Horticulture and Carolina Gardener magazines, as well as for the Scottish Rock Garden Club, the Rock Garden Quarterly of the North American Rock Garden Society, and the Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer. Bobby was made a contributing editor at Horticulture magazine in 2009.

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