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

4.8 out of 5 stars 267 customer reviews

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  • Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants, Updated and Expanded
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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

“A fascinating study of the trees, shrubs, and vines that feed the insects, birds, and other animals in the suburban garden.” —The New York Times
 
“Provides the rationale behind the use of native plants, a concept that has rapidly been gaining momentum...The text makes a case for native plants and animals in a compelling and complete fashion.” —The Washington Post

“This is the ‘it’ book in certain gardening circles. It’s really struck a nerve.” —Virginia A. Smith, Philadelphia Inquirer

“Reading this book will give you a new appreciation of the natural world—and how much wild creatures need gardens that mimic the disappearing wild.” —The Minneapolis Star Tribune
 
“A compelling argument for the use of native plants in gardens and landscapes.” —Landscape Architecture
 
“An essential guide for anyone interested in increasing biodiversity in the garden.” —American Gardener

“I want to mention how excited I am about reading Bringing Nature Home...I like the writing—enthusiastic and down-to-earth, as it should be.” —Elizabeth Licata, Garden Rant

“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.” —Seattle Post-Intelligencer
 
“Tallamy explains eloquently how native plant species depend on native wildlife.” —San Luis Obispo Tribune
 
“will persuade all of us to take a look at what is in our own yards with an eye to how we, too, can make a difference. It has already changed me.” —Traverse City Record-Eagle
 
“delivers an important message for all gardeners: Choosing native plants fortifies birds and other wildlife and protects them from extinction.” —WildBird Magazine
 


"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."

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Timber Press; Exp Upd edition (April 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0881929921
  • ISBN-13: 978-0881929928
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (267 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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 with which they share an evolutionary history. Our bugs just can't eat plants that 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 initiating a 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 wondrous, 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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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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