Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens

by Douglas W. Tallamy

Other authorsRick Darke (Contributor)
Hardcover, 2007

Call number

635 TAL



Timber Press (2007), 288 pages


As development and subsequent habitat destruction accelerate, there are increasing pressures on wildlife populations. But there is an important and simple step toward reversing this alarming trend: Everyone with access to a patch of earth can make a significant contribution toward sustaining biodiversity. There is an unbreakable link between native plant species and native wildlife -- native insects cannot, or will not, eat alien plants. When native plants disappear, the insects disappear, impoverishing the food source for birds and other animals. In many parts of the world, habitat destruction has been so extensive that local wildlife is in crisis and may be headed toward extinction. Bringing Nature Home has sparked a national conversation about the link between healthy local ecosystems and human well-being, and the new paperback edition -- with an expanded resource section and updated photos -- will help broaden the movement. By acting on Douglas Tallamy's practical recommendations, everyone can make a difference.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member SqueakyChu
This is what a terrific book can do to you. It jumps up into your hands from a bookshelf because it has keywords in its title that attract your attention. In my case, the keywords were “native plants”. Then it forces you to peek inside to look at the pictures. I figured there’d be some good
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pictures as this was a book about nature. Last, it grabs hold of you so you can’t put it down until you’ve finished reading it. Truthfully, I don’t know when the last nonfiction book did this to me, but I was certainly “wow”ed by this book.

This was a library book that I selected because I’d recently learned about invasive plant species and wanted to know more about them. What I got instead was basically an abbreviated course in sustaining wildlife. I loved this book! I learned so much from it.

Basically the premise of this book is that, if you want to see the return of wildlife to planet earth, you must begin at home. You’re told why alien plant species are not compatible with insects which in turn nourish birds and other larger forms of wildlife that we are now seeing in diminishing numbers.

The author, Douglas W. Tallamy, is professor and chair of the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware. Oh, how I envy those who are in his class! His explanations of ecology throughout his book were organized, intelligent (loved learning both the common and Latin names of each plant and insect!), and humorous. He makes his point about sustainable forms of life very clearly and passionately. I much admire his enthusiasm.

Don’t miss this book. It’s a wonderful read, has delightful pictures, and quite a lot to teach you.
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LibraryThing member 2wonderY
This is one of those paradigm shifting books. So, do you want the local insects to eat holes in your leaves? Resoundingly, YES! If you want a healthy ecosystem, you have to encourage all of the local life; you can't be particular and selective. And to keep the whole thing churning correctly, you
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can't displace the traditional foods of even the smallest members of the system. Witness the Monarch butterfly crisis because farmers have been eradicating milkweed from much of the US heartland. Grow those weeds. More importantly, grow all the local plants that the local animals rely on. One of the reasons some imported varieties do so outsize well is that they don't have their native nibblers here. That's not a good ecosystem.
This is a must-read for all people concerned with the ecosphere remaining alive.
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LibraryThing member juniperSun
Excellent explanation of why we need biodiversity: insects are necessary as the protein source for most of our loved birds and wildlife, and most plant-eating insects have evolved/adapted to specific plants, so that lawns and imported plants are a desert to them. Lots of great photos making his
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point. Since I've read a lot on this topic, all the rehash of what I already knew did get a bit tedious, but was easy enough to skim thru. My one quibble with his concept is he seems to say that changing our suburban landscape will be sufficient. I know there are some birds and animals that are not that willing to get so close to humans--they need deep woods for their habitat. By acknowledging that our national parks and preserves are not enough and that we need suburbs to harbor wildlife also, we cannot conversely say that we can now dismantle our preserves.
That's the first part of the book. If everyone switched to native plants and decreased lawn size for their landscaping, it would help a lot to make our lifestyle sustainable. Tallamy even includes ideas for fitting in with the neighborhood --native landscaping does not equal neglect & ragged weeds.
The second section describes 22 species that support the most insect life. There is no gardening advice, this is more a planning guide.
The third section describes 52 insect species: "What bird food looks like" (which is a nice way of saying "don't be squeamish" and reminding us that--besides their role as pollinators-- we don't really want to wipe out all insect life). Tallamy found some interesting fact to share for most species.
Appendices include 1) a list of native plants by region--shade trees, conifers, understory trees & shrubs, vines, ground covers, perennials for dry or wet sites, grasses/sedges/rushes, ferns. 2)list of butterflies/moths and their host plants. 3)references (he is a professor, after all)
So get it, read it, use it--get with the program!
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LibraryThing member hailelib
An interesting book teeming with photos, many of them of insects native to the eastern part of the U.S. Tallamy's main theme is that we have largely destroyed the native ecology of North America and, if nothing is done, our continent will in just a few decades be facing the extinction of many of
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its native species, both plant and animal. His solution is to restore habitat one parcel at a time - by removing "alien" plants from our landscapes and replacing them with "natives" then the herbivores (mostly insects) will have food and in their turn supply food for animals like song birds who raise their young on a diet of insects and spiders. He also points out that a balanced habitat has no need of fertilizer or pesticides. Because Tallamy lives in the Mid-Atlantic area most of his specific suggestions are for that area but he does list plants that would do well in the Southeast and also ones for the western areas of the U.S. The author is an entomologist and has researched wildlife ecology and his arguments here make sense. Recommended.
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LibraryThing member peacegarden
This book changed my mind about the gardens I was planning. All those "trouble free" non natives that I adore have unintended consequences...oops!

It is not only convincing in its premise, but offers list upon list of native pants to substitute in the landscape.

Can't recommend this on enough!
LibraryThing member Chalkstone
Tallamy presents a simple elegant argument, based on scientific evidence, that should serve as a model for anyone writing about the environment. The dire consequences of ill-informed actions can be clearly illustrated without hysterical hyperbole. Let's face it: an insect does not make a compelling
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poster child. The fund raisers prefer the polar bear, the bald eagle and the gray wolf. But this book is compelling enough to make you reassess what you are doing in your own backyard. It is not just an alarming case study of what is going wrong. It is a clear and simple prescription for what all gardeners can do to correct the problem. And the brilliance of this book is that you can figure out the solution without having Professor Tallamy bore you with the answer.
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LibraryThing member gypsyatheart
Brilliant and instructive! This book will change how you view the natural world around you in the urban and suburban setting!
LibraryThing member BobVTReader
A book that everyone concerned about the environment or global warming should have on their bookshelf or at least check out of the library and read.
LibraryThing member jhawn
How native plants sustain wildlife in our gardens
LibraryThing member libgarden
Even though I have been an organic gardener for some time, and have worked to create a healthy habitat for birds and other wildlife in my yard and garden, this book completely changed my understanding and view of insects. Doug Tallamy, an entomologist, makes the case for ecologically healthy
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gardening practices that can make a positive impact on wildlife threatened by suburban development. By something as simple as replacing alien plants with natives plants, we can re-establish biodiversity and save the "ecosystem-sustaining matrix of insects and animals" (Carol Haggas). This is one of those books that shows how small actions can make a big impact. It is a book I wish everyone would read.
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LibraryThing member 4bonasa
THE suburbanites guide to improving the environment, including global climate change. How to make the world a better place, one plant at a time. A must read by every gardener, landscaper and home owner.




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