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Hardy Californians

A Woman’s Life with Native Plants, New, expanded edition

Lester Rowntree (Author), Lester Rowntree (Editor)

Lester G. E. Rowntree (1879-1979), free-spirited adventurer and pioneering botanist, was fifty-two when she traded a comfortable home for the life of a peripatetic traveler in the California mountains, deserts, and forests. Through hundreds of magazine and journal articles, two acclaimed books, and uncounted public lectures, Rowntree shared her vast knowledge of California native plants and at the same time argued passionately for the protection of the state's bountiful flora. A mountain mystic who worshipped on Sierra peaks, bathed in alpine streams, and lived for months on beans and bread, Rowntree has remained an inspiration in native plant horticulture and plant conservation to this day.

A beloved classic first published in 1936, Hardy Californians is Rowntree's poetic sketch of California and its plant life. In charming prose, she takes us along on her annual seed-collecting journey through the state and gives a concise introduction to the complexities of California flora, climate, and geography. The book also gives information on the suitability of many native California plants for the garden. This new edition includes a comprehensive biographical essay, a chapter on Rowntree's horticultural legacy, an updated species list, and a complete bibliography of her writings.
List of Illustrations
Preface to the 2006 Edition
About Lester: A Biographical Sketch, by Lester B. Rowntree and Rowan A. Rowntree
A Reflective Essay, by Judith Lowry
Author’s Preface

1 Fool’s Gold
2 On Top of the World
3 Coming Down the Mountain—At Timber Line
4 Coming Down the Mountain—The Meadows
5 Coming Down the Mountain—Rivers and Forests Begin
6 The Contemned Buckwheats
7 Pentstemons
8 Lupins
9 Violas
10 North of San Francisco
11 Perennial Odds and Ends
12 Some of California’s Wild Bulbs
13 Some Annuals—But Not the Common Ones
14 How to Grow Them

Updated Species List, by Allison Green
A Bibliography of Lester Rowntree’s Publications, by Rosemary Foster
Lester Rowntree was born in England and spent much of her life in Carmel, California. In addition to Hardy Californians, she wrote The Flowering Shrubs of California and four children's books. Lester B. Rowntree, her grandson, is a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley.
“I would recommend a new, expanded edition of the 1936 classic Hardy Californians. . . . Rowntree, often called the female John Muir, spent most of her life wandering through California, from the high peaks of the Sierras to Joshua Tree and the deserts, collecting plants. In her books and hundreds of articles, she sought to capture the personality and spirit, as well as the texture, of California wildflowers.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Sensitively and skillfully updated and expanded, this superb new edition of Lester Rowntree's much-loved classic will quickly become a classic itself. Insightful biographical material, new photos, comprehensive bibliography, and updated plant names add context and currency to an extraordinary book."—--Nora Harlow, coeditor of Wild Lilies, Irises, and Grasses

"At last Lester Rowntree's classic book Hardy Californians is in print again. What a treasure this book is! Lester was a true pioneer and her annual journey, starting in the desert, heading north through the foothills, then ending in the mountains is one that every reader will want to recreate."—Glenn Keator, author of Complete Garden Guide to the Native Perennials of California

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