Occasionally a book revolutionizes my thought. I find myself changing little by little as the pages turn, and by the close of the cover, I know I’ll be thinking differently from now on. So was the case with Bringing Nature Home by Douglas W. Tallamy. Sure, I knew all those wondrous woodland plants my mother pointed out to me as a child were important. But I didn’t understand why – at least not to the depth I do now! Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants is filled with gorgeous color photographs and inspiring text that is not only overflowing with Douglas Tallamy’s infectious love of nature, but with ideas of which I quickly adapted.
I’ve been wanting to add more natives to my garden. I have said numerous times that, although I love herbs and searching for them in the woods and fields, I’m a lousy gardener. About the time I started reading this book, I had added a few natives to my front garden, a spot infamous among the neighborhood for being filled with limp and unattractive species that are not fit for the shady little plot. But the natives I added took off! Why? They belong there, that’s why! In that soil, with those bugs and birds and animals. While progressing through Bringing Nature Home, I gained a deeper understanding of how it all works – how, as Americans, we tend to love our lush green and weedless lawns, and how our native bugs depend on those weeds and native plants to survive. Without the bugs and caterpillars, we have no butterflies. Our songbirds have nothing proper to eat and so on. Sure, alien ornamental trees and plants may be bug resistant, but what good is that to our land’s very necessary bugs? And are our alien plants really bug resistant? (See my tirades involving non-native Japanese Beetles and the death of my Asian plum trees!)
I also learned that, to my surprise, I actually found Tallamy’s discussion of bugs fascinating! I found the entire book fascinating. His enthusiasm for nature, and for helping restore our country’s biodiversity, is contagious and hopeful. He doesn’t point fingers and make the reader feel our long history of gardening with alien species is all doom and gloom or irreversible. He doesn’t suggest gardeners across the country rip up their beloved non-native plants either. He does suggest we begin adding those natives back in, and he tells you how to do it easily and effectively, all the while building a gorgeous yard filled with butterflies, songbirds, and LIFE.
I’m very happy to be able to offer THREE copies of the fascinating and beautiful book, Bringing Nature Home. ($17.95 retail) If you have a garden, whether it be big or small, this book is a must-have.
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