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Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants, Updated and Expanded Paperback – April 1, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Tallamy takes an obvious observation—wildlife is threatened when suburban development encroaches on once wild lands—and weds it to a novel one: that beneficial insects are being deprived of essential food resources when suburban gardeners exclusively utilize nonnative plant material. Such an imbalance, Tallamy declares, can lead to a weakened food chain that will no longer be able to support birds and other animal life. Once embraced only by members of the counterculture, the idea of gardening with native plants has been landscape design's poor stepchild, thought to involve weeds and other plants too unattractive for pristine suburban enclaves. Not so, says Tallamy, who presents compelling arguments for aesthetically pleasing, ecologically healthy gardening. With nothing less than the future of North American biodiversity at stake, Tallamy imparts an encouraging message: it's not too late to save the ecosystem-sustaining matrix of insects and animals, and the solution is as easy as replacing alien plants with natives. Haggas, Carol --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Buy, borrow, or steal this book! It is essential reading with ideas that need to become part of our understanding of how life works on this planet."



"This book not only shows how important native plants are but also how easy they can be to incorporate into a landscape plan."
(Ann Lovejoy Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

"An informative and engaging account of the ecological interactions between plants and wildlife, this fascinating handbook explains why exotic plants can hinder and confuse native creatures, from birds and bees to larger fauna." 
(Anne Raver USA Today)

"This book aims to motivate parents and caregivers who are concerned about childrens' lack of connection to the outdoors."

(Anne Raver New York Times)

"The book evolved out of a set of principles. So the message is loud and clear: gardeners could slow the rate of extinction by planting natives in their yards. This simple revelation about the food web—and it is an intricate web, not a chain—is the driving force in Bringing Nature Home."
(Elizabeth Licata New York Times)

"A fascinating study of the trees, shrubs, and vines that feed the insects, birds, and other animals in the suburban garden."
(Judy Brinkerhoff Garden Rant)

"We all know where resistance to natives, reliance on pesticides, and the cult of the lawn still reign supreme: suburban America. And suburban America is where Doug Tallamy aims the passionate arguments for natives and their accompanying wildlife." 
(Sally Cunningham Petaluma Argus-Courier)

Bringing Nature Home opens our eyes to an environmental problem of staggering proportions. Fortunately, it also shows us how we can help.

(Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp Eco-Libris Blog)

You can look at this book as a manifesto explaining why we should favor native plants, but it’s much more than that. It’s a plan to sustain the endangered biodiversity and even more, it’s a plan to transform suburbia from an environmental liability to an environmental asset.

(Warwick Beacon)

This updated and expanded edition … is a delight to read and a most needed resource."


(Cabin Life)

"This book will not only foster a love of the outdoors in all who read it, but also create a deeper understanding and appreciation of the intricate web of wildlife outside your door."
(The Recorder)

"In an area that is as open and wooded as ours, we may not be aware that there is more to the need for natives than concern about invasive species that upset an ecosystem. According to Tallamy, a balanced ecosystem needs more insects.  It is when the balance of the system is disrupted that problems arise."
(St. Petersburg Times)

"Tallamy's book is a call to arms.  There is not much ordinary citizens can do to create large new preserves.  But we can make better use of the small green spaces we have around our houses.  While the situation in the United States is quite serious, Tallamy offers options that anyone with a garden, even a postage-stamp-sized one like mine, can do to help."
(Birding Business)

"Tallamy makes such a compelling case for the importance of insects to birds that I’ve completely changed the way I garden.  From now on, insect attractors are my first choices."
(Winston-Salem Journal)

"Tallamy illustrates well how gardeners have contributed greatly to tipping the environment off balance and how they are equally able to turn the trend … Plants and insects are integrally intertwined.  Understanding the beauty of these relationships deepens our appreciation of our gardens and the important role we play."
(Ants, Bees, Birds, Butterflies, Nature Blog)

"[It] is the book that is going to change how gardening is conducted over the next century."
(Plant Whatever Brings You Joy Blog)

"Doug Tallamy's book is a gift. It's not the kind of gift wrapped with a pink ribbon and a tiny rose tucked into the bow. It's the kind of gift that shakes you to your core and sets you on the path of healing. Your garden. Your planet. One plant at a time. Open it."
(Prairie Moon Nursery blog)

"This book is not a rant on nature gardening, nor is it a typical garden design book, or a stuffy academic textbook. The author might be a professor … but he has written a book which is readable, scientific, fascinating, and highly digestible."
(Philadelphia Inquirer)

"This is the 'it' book in certain gardening circles. It's really struck a nerve."

(Buffalo News)

"My book of choice of the year."

(Indianapolis Star)

He combines the passion which many of us have, with the science, and that’s a winning combination.


“Tallamy explains in beautiful prose the importance of native plants to our wildlife.”
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Timber Press; Enlarged,Expanded Edition edition (April 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0881929921
  • ISBN-13: 978-0881929928
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (170 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Douglas W. Tallamy is Professor and Chair of the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware. Chief among his research goals is to better understand the many ways insects interact with plants and how such interactions determine the diversity of animal communities.

Customer Reviews

Easy to read, very informative.
Robin Caple
This book totally changed the way I think about the ecosystem that includes my landscape.
Cherie'
Native plants support insects that feed most land birds.
Randall S.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

240 of 243 people found the following review helpful By James Golden on December 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I heard Douglas Tallamy speak at the Native Plants in the Landscape Conference at Millersville University (PA) last June, and I've been waiting for his book to be published by Timber Press.

I'm a gardener, and I don't want to grow only native plants. But this book makes me stop and think. Douglas Tallamy makes the best case for use of native plants I've read. I recommend it without reservation.

Simply put, the book's message is this. All life on earth, except for some recently discovered, relatively rare forms that take energy from volcanic vents in the ocean floor, depend on energy from the sun that plants convert into food through photosynthesis. Most of that solar energy is made available to higher life forms through insects that eat plants. With the exception of a few direct herbivores such as cows, all other higher forms of life either eat insects (most birds) or eat other animals that eat insects (hawks eating sparrows), and so on up the food chain. The productivity of an environment, literally the weight of biomass produced in a given area, is directly related to the insect population, and the variety of wildlife - number of species of birds and so on - is also directly related to the numbers and varieties of insects living there.

Research now clearly shows that native insect populations cannot be sustained by most alien plants. Our insects have co-evolved with native plants over millions of years, and most have highly specific preferences for certain plants as food. As Professor and Chair of the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, Tallamy has access to research that tells a disturbing story.
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82 of 84 people found the following review helpful By Kay Charter on November 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Douglas Tallamy was captivated early by the natural world. In his engaging new book, Bringing Nature Home, Tallamy writes of spending his summer days exploring the "wild" places near his home in New Jersey. There, he also discovered the devastating effects of development when a bulldozer buried tiny toads he had watched develop from tadpoles in a polliwog pond. Our hearts go out to the nine-year-old child as he works valiantly, but futilely, to save the little creatures from being buried alive.
When he grew up, the boy who had tried to rescue toads studied the natural world, ultimately becoming Professor and Chair of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware. In the process, he discovered the extent of loss resulting from wide scale development and agricultural activities. And that is the subject of his book. But Bringing Nature Home is not another gloom and doom tome on what we humans have wrought. Instead, this engaging and highly readable book tells us how we can all be involved in turning back environmental loss in a way that will bring that wild world right into our own back yards by simply trading non-native ornamental plantings for native ones.
Bringing Nature Home is very well documented (with a bibliography longer than your arm) and full of beautiful and fascinating photos. It includes many of Tallamy's own personal landscaping experiences as well as numerous suggestions on plant choices for the rest of us.
Like Ted Williams in Wild Moments and Scott Weidensaul in Return to Wild America, Tallamy remains optimistic about the future of America's wildlife. But unlike Williams and Weidensaul, both of whom wrote eloquently about why we should connect with and want to save our natural world, the good professor's book is a prescription on how we can all work to make that happen.
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68 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Ian Eagleson on January 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a first-rate popular work by a mature researcher. Tallamy's arguments for using native plants in suburban gardens are convincing, often eloquent (esp. in chaps. 3 and 4). He argues that native bugs can only eat plants that they share an evolutionary history with. Our bugs just can't eat plants which have evolved in other parts of the world (i.e. alien plants). Furthermore, our birds don't feed their young on plants but can only feed their young on bugs. (This is true even if adult birds can survive on plant food alone--e.g. berries from native and alien plants alike). So bugs are necessary for bird reproduction. Therefore, as the number and diversity of native plants diminish so do the number and diversity of bugs, and, therefore, so do the number of birds since bugs are less and less available for bird reproduction. So far as reproductive nutrition is concerned, alien plants are as useful as a parking lot. Since so far as making bugs available for food, alien plants have no ecological function. What's worse, there is very little in our native ecosystem to inhibit the spread of many of these alien plants--except us!

Tallamy does not leave us hanging with just a lot of bad news. To the contrary, he offers a plan for beginning recovery in which the suburban gardener plays the central role. He celebrates the role each suburban gardener can have in restoring the habitat of native plant and animal ecosystems right in each gardener's own yard. He gave me a real excitement about creating and observing a wonderous, healthy biodiversity just outside my backdoor, a diversity much more interesting than I could ever achieve with alien plants. His hope is that this excitement could become widespread among gardeners such that suburbia and nature could reconcile.
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