Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 2009


Published in Great Plains Research 19.2 (Fall 2009): 254


Copyright 2009 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Used by permission.


High Plains Horticulture is an outstanding historical review of the amazing challenges and environmental constraints homesteaders, early settlers, and visionary plantsmen faced head on in their noble efforts to establish horticultural pursuits in the High Plains. Its historical documentation is noteworthy, its author’s treatment commendable. Anyone reading this book will gain renewed respect for the sheer grit, patience, endurance, passion, and leadership sacrificially offered by early plantsmen, horticulturists, and community pioneers, including early horticultural society and governmental leaders.

The text describes early vegetable- and fruit-growing efforts and clearly paints the definitive, yet intangible, role horticulture plays, in all its facets, in making our environment more liveable and aesthetically satisfying. John F. Freeman skillfully intertwines this well-documented concept with our human dependence on a reliable source of water, though this overwhelming emphasis on drought and water needs results in a bit of repetitiveness. While his coverage of the horticultural contributions of Niels Hansen at the South Dakota Agricultural College in Brookings, South Dakota, is somewhat superficial compared with the more encompassing and complete presentation of research at the Cheyenne Horticultural Field Station in Wyoming, this may be in part because Brookings is located to the east of the High Plains. For current accuracy, several scientific plant names could have been updated, but plant nomenclature is sound overall.