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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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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.
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.