Mar 23 2012
Bringing Nature Home, How you can sustain wildlife with native plants.
By Douglas W. Tallamy
(A review by Karen Van Norman, Lead Gardener, Field Outdoor Spaces. Inc.)
I heard Douglas Tallamy speak at a conference in February 2010, and now two years later, I’m still inspired and motivated by his speech and this book. Planting native plants in our gardens isn’t a new idea by any means, but Mr. Tallamy does a wonderful job of explaining the importance of biological diversity in our own backyards.
The key word is “Insects”. Not only are insects important for pollination of plants but also as protein food for many animals. Songbirds eat insects. Native insects need native plants as their food source, so a backyard or neighborhood nearly void of native plants and trees will have fewer insects.
Most people would cheer at the thought of fewer insects but Tallamy says, “Our nearly universal animosity toward insects is understandable, but seriously misplaced. Of the 4 million or so insect species on earth (to put things in perspective, there are only about 9500 species of birds), a mere 1 percent interact with humans in negative ways. The other 99 percent of the insect species pollinate plants, return the nutrients tied up in dead plants and animals to the soil, keep populations of insect herbivores in check, aerate and enrich the soil, and as I keep stressing, provide food either directly or indirectly for most other animals.”
This book is full of beautiful photographs and has succinct and easy to understand explanations and examples of biodiversity, creating balanced communities, and what plants support the most insects. Did you know that an oak tree supports 534 lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) species? Late winter is the perfect time to read Bringing Nature Home. It will excite you about the wonderful ways gardeners can make a difference for the earth. You’ll want to sharpen your shovel in anticipation of spring.