- File Size: 27062 KB
- Print Length: 539 pages
- Publisher: Timber Press; 2 edition (September 1, 2009)
- Publication Date: September 1, 2009
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1604691468
- ISBN-13: 978-1604691467
- ASIN: B003UV8ZTE
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Not Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #116,613 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
|Digital List Price:||$15.95|
|Print List Price:||$19.95|
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Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants, Updated and Expanded Kindle Edition
|Length: 539 pages||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled||Page Flip: Enabled|
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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Gardeners enjoy their hobby for many reasons: a love of plants and nature, the satisfaction that comes from beautifying home and community, the pleasures of creative effort, the desire to collect rare or unusual species, and the healthful benefits of exercise and outdoor air. For some people, like my wife and me, there is pleasure in just watching plants grow.
But now, for the first time in its history, gardening has taken on a role that transcends the needs of the gardener. Like it or not, gardeners have become important players in the management of our nation’s wildlife. It is now within the power of individual gardeners to do something that we all dream of doing: to make a difference. In this case, the “difference” will be to the future of biodiversity, to the native plants and animals of North America and the ecosystems that sustain them.
For decades, many horticulture writers have been pleading for a fresh appreciation of our American flora, and for almost as long they have been largely (or entirely) ignored. For several reasons, however, the day of the native ornamental is drawing near; the message is finally beginning to be heard. If I were to ask a random group of gardeners to comment on the importance of native plants in their gardens, they would probably recount several arguments that have been made in recent years in favor of natives over alien ornamentals. They might describe the “sense of place” that is created by using plants that “belong” or the dangers of releasing yet another species of invasive alien to outcompete and smother native vegetation. They might recognize the costly wastefulness of lawns populated with alien grasses that demand high-nitrogen fertilizers, broad-leaf herbicides, and pollution-belching mowers. Or they might mention the imperative of rescuing endangered native plants from extinction. These are all well-documented reasons for the increasing popularity of growing native plants.
Owners of native nurseries are also finding it easier and easier to enumerate the benefits of their offerings. Native plants are well adapted to their particular ecological niche and so are often far less difficult to grow than species from other altitudes, latitudes, and habitats. After all, these plants evolved here and were growing just fine long before we laid our heavy hands on the landscape.
Most compelling to me, however, is the use of native species to create simplified vestiges of the ecosystems that once made this land such a rich source of life for its indigenous peoples and, later, for European colonists and their descendants. That most of our ecosystems are no longer rich is beyond debate, and today, most of the surviving remnants of the native flora that formed them have been finished off by development or invaded by alien plant species. Too many Oak Parks, Hickory Hills, and Fox Hollows—developments named, as the environmentalist Bill McKibben has noted, for the bit of nature they have just extirpated—have been built across the country. Although relatively small, strategically placed and connected patches of completely restored habitats might foster the survival of some of our wildlife, I will describe later why such habitat islands can only protect a tiny fraction of the species that once thrived in North America. With 300 million human souls already present in the United States and no national recognition of the limits of our land’s ability to support additional millions, we simply have not left enough intact habitat for most of our species to avoid extinction. All species need space in order to dodge the extinction bullet. So far we have not shared space very well with our fellow earthlings. In the following pages, I hope to convince you that, for our own good and certainly for the good of other species, we must do better. Native plants will play a disproportionately large role in our success.
The transition from alien ornamentals to native species will require a profound change in our perception of the landscaping value of native ornamentals. Europeans first fell in love with the exotic beauty of plants that evolved on other continents when the great explorers returned home with beautiful species no one had ever seen before. It quickly became fashionable and a signal of wealth and high status to landscape with alien ornamentals that no one else had access to. As the first foreign ornamentals became more common in the landscape, the motivation to seek new alien species increased. Even today, the drive to obtain unique species or cultivars is a primary factor governing how we select plants for our landscapes.
From the Back Cover
As Doug Tallamy eloquently explains, everyone can welcome more wildlife into their yards just by planting even a few native plants. With fascinating explanations and extensive lists of native plants for regional habitats, this scientifically researched book can help us all to make a difference. No prior training is needed to become a backyard ecologist—but Tallamy's book can be a vital first set. For more information, please visit www.plantnative.com.
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Oh my gosh. Does Tallamy drive home the importance of a diversity of insects to support the populations we care about. Usually, gardeners prefer a more bug-free environment, sterile even, because bugs eat plants, and we want plants to be beautiful. Tallamy turns that on its head and shows us just how terrible it is to keep only these ornamental species that feed nobody. Sure, birds might eat some ornamental berries -- after they've raised their young. But when they are raising their young? They rely on the species that ornamental gardeners detest -- the caterpillars and other creatures that might eat a leaf or two of native plants.
I have been working with native plants in my area for a couple of years, but this book has really given me the impetus to ramp up the outreach that I do. I am already planting at least half native species in my front yard (while my neighbor works to perfect his sterile lawn). My work allows me to advocate for all gardeners to consider adding native species to their properties and supporting the species that help birds and other creatures survive. This book backs me up with solid studies about what planting natives really does -- and the harm that out-of-control ornamentals (like Japanese honeysuckle) really are doing. Yikes.
Tallamy reminds us that the future of our planet may depend on small, individual efforts like these. That is the one ray of hope in this book, that we may be able to make a difference in this rampaging Anthropocene era.
This is a heck of a book and full of very useful information. If it doesn't light a fire under your butt and get you considering putting in at least a little patch of species native to your area to help the birds and other wildlife, then you've got some soul searching to do, my friend.
Even in neighborhoods without HOA's, the trend has been toward sculpted yards and the planting of ornamentals that are often non-native. As a result, there are fewer and fewer songbirds, butterflies, and more and more "pests" that the birds and other wildlife would have managed. I was contributing to this without realizing it, by planting non-native trees or shrubs based only on "beauty," but not with an eye to the species they support or the healthy ecosystem they make possible. Dr. Tallamy explains all of this so easily and clearly, and the many charts and lists provide accessible and quick information.
This book can guide you to better choices when you're adding a new tree or shrub or flower to your yard, it can guide you to simple steps that add a very important diversity to your yards plants, and the species they support. It's like, without realizing it, you can offer so many beneficial species food to support a healthy complex web, or inadvertently be part of the starving and loss of beneficial species we want and need, just by choosing a different plant or tree, or doing things a little differently.
He shows you how to do this within what you already have. And you notice the difference in even a short period of time. The word seems to go out, and the species arrive! In the past two days I have seen two different species of butterfly I never saw here before. Even things as simple as leaving a "weed" I would have otherwise removed - milkweed - we were actually able to watch monarchs go from egg to larvae to chysalis to butterfly, in our own yard, from plants in my ditch I would have just mowed down.
There are so many things we can't do as we see the loss of farmland and wild places around us. This book shows how much we can do, even on a little yard, or even balcony. My yard is more beautiful, and the birds and wildlife is a joy every single day. I even appreciate and notice beneficial insects I never would have noticed, and possibly would not have had.
It also helps us pass on the information so our friends and neighbors - and HOA boards - don't inadvertently contribute to the problem, and help them see how easily they can make a positive difference.
The book is well written, clear, positive, approachable. It is not a "just for scientist" kind of book, and he does not lecture. It's delightful to read.
I love this book and recommend it highly, for yourself, and as a gift for every gardener/homeowner that you know. It is not a book your gardening/homeowner friends might have known about or thought of, but they will appreciate it, and use it, and pass the information on to their children. And in the best kind of way - it doesn't preach, it's like taking a walk outside with a favorite uncle who knows all about the beauty and wonder around you, and is generous and fun enough so you can too.
The appendix's save the book. Appendix 1 covers Native plants (not just trees) per region of the United States. Appendix 2 lists types of insects like the Monarch butterfly and what you can plant to attract and provide for it.
The book is informative, but spends most of the time trying to convince the reader Why this is a method to consider as opposed to How to do it.