Another title we came across while updating our free nature studies is Stories of Luther Burbank and His Plant School by Effie Young Slusser, Mary Belle Williams, and Emma Burbank Beeson. This excellent free eBook covers Burbank’s early life and schooling to adulthood and his interest in potatoes before spending the remainder and largest part of the book covering his work with flowers. And pertinent to our nature studies, you’ll find an entire chapter on the Shasta daisy.
The little wild field daisy, that grew around Luther Burbank’s childhood home, was considered by the farmers an evil thing, a harmful weed. Burbank’s loving heart seemed to go out to this little forsaken thing, which, to most persons, was an intruder, not deserving even a place to live. He singled it out from the attractive flowers, that appealed to every one—the violet, the aster, the pansy, the trailing arbutus, the lily, the rose—not for lack of love for these, but they had friends a-plenty, the daisy scarcely one. He would show it friendship, and give it a chance in the world to be something.
Burbank’s work with these “outcasts” lead to his work ridding flowers of thorns and brambles and prickles. Throughout the book his plants are spoken of and to as children.
Opuntia, thought the wise one, will doubtless prove a stubborn child and need strict training. It will require a steady hand to guide him, and great patience will need to be exercised for years and years. But no matter about that. No matter how wild or defiant a plant seemed, if Burbank saw in it something good and useful, the pupil was received even joyously, as in this case, into the school.
Along with several beautiful color plates, the book is full of black-and-white illustrations, making it very accessible to a wide variety of ages. Younger readers will enjoy the book as a read aloud.
Fun and interesting read — and it is free!