A Passion for Plants

Noted horticulturalist and plant expert
Cullina has a fascination for wildflowers

He will share his knowledge
at Yew Dell Gardens event

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

CRESTWOOD, Ky. – William Cullina has a passion for plants. He has traveled extensively studying and photographing plants and will bring his impressive volume of knowledge to Yew Dell Gardens for a wildflower lecture.

William Cullina

Photo provided

Cullina, a noted horticulturalist and expert plant propagator,
will speak March 7 at
Yew Dell Gardens.

Cullina can’t put his finger on the exact reason he finds wildflowers so intriguing but admits it has been a life-long interest. He is partial to lady slipper orchids, which he defined as “the most unique of wildflowers. They have a mysterious reputation.”
Cullina, an internationally renowned wildflower grower, photographer and writer, on March 7 will present Fabulous Wildflowers! at Yew Dell Gardens. The event is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The lecture will focus on native plants, while weaving in ecology, design, cultural elements and stories, said Cullina, 44.
Lecture participants “will learn about the diversity of wildflowers in the eastern forest and tricks on cultivation in the garden,” said Paul Cappiello, executive director of Yew Dell Gardens.
Accompanying the lecture will be images Cullina has taken. His goal is to have participants “never look at a plant the same way again.”
Cappiello said Cullina is among the best experts on the subject of wildflowers. “His experience is broad and his knowledge is very deep on all things related to native wildflowers.”
This will be Cullina’s first lecture at Yew Dell Gardens. “We have numerous wildflowers located around the gardens,” said Cappiello, and “the Virginia bluebells are a sight to be seen in late April.”
Cullina, originally from Connecticut, holds degrees in plant science and psychology. He is a past director of horticultural research for the New England Wild Flower Society’s Garden in the Woods and Nasami Farm, the largest retail native plant nursery in New England.
He left this job to pursue a position as plant and garden curator for the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, one of North America’s newest public gardens. The gardens feature 250 acres of forests and gardens along a mile of salt water in Boothbay, Maine.
“Coastal Maine has a mystique and charisma all its own,” said Cullina. It is “a setting most garden designers and horticulturists can only dream of. To have the opportunity to help develop a young public garden on a beautiful piece of waterfront property along the Maine Coast is a dream come true in itself.”
The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens opened two years ago. Cullina is responsible for developing the gardens, collections, interpretation and overall “helping it to grow,” he said.
Cullina lectures extensively to garden and professional groups, similar to the program he will present at Yew Dell Gardens. He is a frequent contributor to popular publications and trade journals. His fifth book, "Understanding Perennials," is expected to be for sale soon.
“It is not an encyclopedia,” cautions Cullina. Rather he would have readers “think of it as an owner’s manual.” The book answers such questions as: "What makes plants drought-tolerant?" And it focuses on topics such as stems, leaves, flowers and propagation.
“We try to bring in speakers who are experts in their field and who present in a manner that engages the audience,” said Karla Drover, assistant director of Yew Dell Gardens.
Cullina lives on Southport Island, Maine, with his wife, Melissa, 6-year-old son, Liam, and 1-year-old twins, Ronan and Maeve.

• Cost for the William Cullina lecture is $15 for members and $25 for non-members. For more information, call Yew Dell Gardens at (502) 241- 4788 or visit: www.yewdellgardens.org.

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