Madras Author Betty Cook recently completed a native plant book.Madras resident Betty Cook has just released “Native Plants of Jefferson County,” a book which combines her photography skills and extensive plant knowledge.

In the past, Cook instructed Central Oregon Community College community education classes in Madras, including ones on native plants, mushrooms, photography and video photography.

Back then, she said, “Mel Ashwill set up a program of all the local people who were knowledgeable of plants, geology, etc., to make books. They were put in the office and teachers could come and get them to use in the classroom.”

Ivy Hilty wrote a book on area birds, Ashwill did one on geology, and Cook started one on native plants, but never completed it – until now.

Her “Native Plants” book has 69 pages with full color photos and information on each plant, including the scientific as well as common names of each. There are also several illustrations by Barbara Duke.

Chapters cover the county’s different zones – alpine, fir, pine, juniper and desert, mushrooms, berries, useful plants and poisonous plants.

Cook’s interest in plants was sparked by her stepmother, who loved wildflowers.

At one point she said, “I decided I would take a photo of every wildflower in Oregon. I’ve been working at it for 50 years and I’m not done yet!”

To accumulate knowledge on the topic, she joined the Native Plant Society, took a native plant course in college, and read 100 books on native plants.

“It’s been a great, fun thing for me,” she said of Oregon’s plant diversity, and tracking down new wildflowers to photograph.

The current edition of “Native Plants of Jefferson County” has a limited number of copies for sale. Cook hand compiled each copy, and they are available for $22.50 each at Mail, Copies and More, Art Adventure Gallery, or by contacting her at 1-800-443-1443.

If this book does well, Cook plans to enlarge the book to cover Central Oregon and have it printed by a publishing company.

Contract Publishing

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