Book Review: "Wild Colours: Canada's Rocky Mountain Wildflowers"
© Jim Hutchison

For the number of times my wife and I have spent hiking and photographing Canada's Rockies, you'd think we'd have at least some kind of knowledge about the various and beautiful wildflowers common to Alberta. Often caught up in the grand vistas so abundant in this part of the country, I'm glad my attention has been drawn to another national treasure of this area: wildflowers.

After hiking through Horseshoe Basin near Waterton, Alberta, my appreciation for wildflowers increased ten-fold. We were told the area is home to the highest number of wildflower species in all of Canada, which piqued our interest... we *love* knowing about unique aspects of this beautiful province we call home. Then, out of the blue, I come across a hardcover book that I had never noticed before -- kind of like the flowers themselves -- called "Wild Colours - Canada's Rocky Mountain Wildflowers" by Paul Gilbert and Kathryn Graham.

In the same way one picks up a "Birds of Canada" book simply for reference material, I grabbed this for the same reason - but was then delightfully surprised by the stunning photography. I'm constantly amazed by the quality of work in various books such as this, whether it's a guide or hiking book for a certain area, or even a map, it seems photography has become more of an integral part in telling the whole story. Artistic illustrations still play an important role in reference and scientific material, but I've observed a shift towards high-quality photography in much of the product we consumers buy these days. This book is no exception. Paul Gilbert knows his camera!

It's obvious the book serves two purposes - one, to provide eye candy that keeps the reader occupied cover to cover, and two: inform the reader of the genres and species of wildflowers that exist right in our own virtual back-yard. Their expertise is clear and un-obtrusive. Their artistic skills are apparent, but not over-stated. Talent speaks for itself, and their contribution to our education and appreciation of this often un-appreciated corner of nature is to be lauded. The last few pages of the book provide hints for flower hunters, some reference material, and technical information for gear junkies like me. Overall, a very well put together book, with beautifully photographed flowers backgrounded by breathtaking rocky mountain scenics.

Grab two copies - one for your coffee table, and another for your back-pack...

You can get copies of this book at


Jim Hutchison is a part time photographer who resides in Burnstown, Ontario with his wife Moira.