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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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Tallamy takes an obvious observationwildlife is threatened when suburban development encroaches on once wild landsand 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.
“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.” —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.” —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
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As an entomologist, Tallamy's attention focuses on the insects, and his book contains relatively little discussion of some of the other aspects of a bird-friendly yard: berries which the birds can use in winter, water, shelter, etc. Cats are not found in the index and it's important that they not be found in the yard.
So far, I've focused on planting butterfly host plants like spicebush and milkweeds, and on planting flowers that attract native bees. My favorite flower planted so far is culver's root, which is covered from dawn to dusk (when flowering) with bumblebees. I joined the Xerces Society, and am learning more every day about how I can use my small yard to make a big difference. I no longer think of myself as a gardener, but as a beginning naturalist. Thank you, Douglas Tallamy!
- the author talked mostly about ornamental trees, he did not discuss fruit trees.
- the author talked about the pathogens that "alien" trees might bring with them, but he did not discuss starting those trees from seeds.
- i believe in some places like deserts, the introduction of some "alien" tree species might do more good than harm if they will withstand the harsh environment.
overall its an ok book. and i do agree that using native trees for landscaping is better.
Several years ago two little girls with newly gifted butterfly nets came up to me while I was working in the yard and plaintively asked where had all the butterflies gone. I showed them the little signs in a neighbor's yard saying the lawn had been sprayed with herbicide and insecticide and then pointed to all the other little signs in the neighborhood. I then led them to our back yard and my wife's "natural area" where we saw a couple of butterflies that were too quick to be caught. My little "teaching moment" was mostly on insecticides. Butterflies and their wild looking, hairy or horned larva (caterpillars) are insects and were being killed by those sprays.
If you were fortunate enough to attend Douglas Tallamy's program at the Golden Rondelle a few weeks ago or to read his book "Bringing Nature Home", then you know that herbicides, killing off most everything other than our alien ornamentals, alien grasses in our monoculture lawns and possibly our imported trees, are at least as much a danger to the natural ecosystem as insecticides.
Modern commercial agriculture and suburban developments have combined to destroy most of the natural ecosystems that used to be here. These ecosystems supported the great diversity that the European explorers and immigrants found here. Agriculture is not going to resurrect this diversity or we won't be fed, so it is up to suburbanites and rural dwellers to do our best. A few simple reminders: All the energy for every animal (except a few species near the thermal vents on the bottom of the ocean) is captured from the sun by plants. All the oxygen we breathe is produced by plants. Thirty-five percent of all the energy going from plants to higher animals goes through insects. Many insects eat only one species or family of plants with which they co-evolved. That is why it is so important to have native plants in our yards and gardens. Without native plants those insects will die off and the birds and other animals depending upon them for food may also be extirpated (local) or become extinct (global and final). We are already losing too many species. We can resist this trend by greater use of native trees, shrubs, grasses, sedges and other herbaceous plants. It need not be a totally native garden, but give diversity a chance. Let's not lose the butterflies!