Do you feel pretty good about your understanding of the importance of native plants in your landscape? Or—do you think “the native plant thing” is yet another fad and you know red roses and nandinas form the framework for all “good” gardens? It doesn’t matter at all—either way—this is the book for you.
This is not the perfect book for us here in Texas. The author lives in the Northeast and any of the plants profiled are specific to that region. However, that in no way diminishes its value. The basic ideas remain the same whatever the location. Dr. Tallamy, whose doctorate is in entomology, presents the wonderful, terrible idea that what we, as caretakers of our land, no matter the size, are making life or death decisions for a host of creatures simply by our plant choices.
The book effectively makes it clear that Nature is “here” in our gardens now. We cannot assume that plants and animals are fine somewhere “out there in the wild” because there just is so little of the wild left.
That’s upsetting—it means taking responsibility for our actions. But it’s also an incredible opportunity to make a difference for ourselves, our family, our community—and beyond.
The introduction presents the major concepts to be considered. The wild creatures we want in our world simply will not be able to live without food and places to live. Things look grim, for creatures are gone or greatly reduced in numbers. But hope is there it’s not too late to save many plants and animals—but to do it we must change our ways.
Alien plants have replaced native ones to an alarming extent. Now all plants capture the energy from the sun but most alien plants are not able to provide support to native insects they cannot eat them. Insects are the major way that energy is transferred to other creatures. This is not just the author’s opinion—there is research to prove it.
Increased use of native plants can produce at least a simplified version of the diverse ecosystem that used to exist. The charts that show the insect populations supported by native plants as opposed to alien ones are truly eye-opening.
All the chapters on insects are educational—but the one on aphids—do not miss it. Aphids are amazing creatures—you will never think of them as disgusting little pests ever again.
If you read even a part of this book you will gain insight into the complex web of interactions between plants insects and other animals.
Pictures by Starla