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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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“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
From the Inside Flap
With the accelerating pace of development and subsequent habitat destruction, the pressures on wildlife populations are greater than they have ever been in our nation's history. Fortunately, there is still time to reverse this alarming trend, and gardeners have the power to make a significant contribution toward sustaining biodiversity.
As this revelatory book eloquently explains, there is an unbreakable link between native plant species and native wildlife. Indeed, most native insects cannot, or will not, eat alien plants. When native plant species disappear or are replaced by alien exotics, the insects disappear, thus impoverishing the food source of birds and other animals. In many parts of the world, habitat destruction has been so extensive that local wildlife populations are in crisis and may well be headed toward extinction.
By favoring native plants, gardeners can provide a welcoming environment for wildlife of all kinds. This doesn't necessarily entail a drastic overhaul of existing gardens. The process can be gradual and can reflect both the gardner's preferences and local sensitivities. To help concerned gardeners, this clearly reasoned account includes helpful lists of native plants for different regional habitats.
Healthy local ecosystems are not only beautiful and fascinating; they are also essential to human well-being. By heeding Douglas Tallamy's affecting arguments and acting upon his practical recommendations, gardeners everywhere can make a difference.
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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!
We have the moral obligation and ability to understand this and a relatively easy way to be part of a solution......planting our yards with plants that greatly benefit nature. His website has plant lists and recommendations for the "best" plants to plant....the trees being the most important related to their sheer size. If you can only plant one tree, check his charts and plant one of the most beneficial.
This is a very compelling book and Doug Tallamy is a true trail blazer!