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

4.45  ·  Rating details ·  1,600 ratings  ·  235 reviews
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
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published November 6th 2007 by Timber Press
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Average rating 4.45  · 
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 ·  1,600 ratings  ·  235 reviews

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Dec 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: garden
Don't read before bedtime. This book makes you want to go outside and plant hackberry trees in the middle of the night. ...more
Andreia ❤The Butterfly Lover❤ Amo Borboletas
Complex, intelligent and very interesting! Recommend to: Anyone interested in gardening, bees, birds, butterflies and moths. If you liked Inheritors of the Earth: How Nature Is Thriving in an Age of Extinction, you may like this. ...more
Tim Gannon
Feb 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this a wonderful book. The author writes quite well. He explains the difference between native and alien plant species (NO Rob - I am talking about plants from Europe and Asia, not another planet).

He demonstrates how we need insects in our world for life to continue and how insect numbers are hugely impacted by the types of plants we have. It has taken thousands of years of evolution to put the right insects with the right plants and since we started bringing in plants from other countr
Jan 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An extremely thoughtful book that is an accessibly written and exciting read. The author explains in clear language supported by numerous studies why biodiversity is important, why alien plants are problematic (I never knew that many native insects do not eat them and the resulting impact on the larger food chain) and how to balance your planted environment whether in the city or suburb to restore balance. The appendixes at the end are quite useful. I checked this out from the library but am ord ...more
Oct 06, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommended to Tinea by: a neighbor
Shelves: ecology-diy
There are lots of books that make the case for planting native species in your home garden. Bringing Nature Home is neat because it's written by an entomologist, a bug scientist. Native plants don't just provide food and habitat for native birds, mammals, and butterflies. Tallamy gets almost giddy about the cool caterpillars you'll find on the underside of an oak leaf. The color photos of fantastic bugs throughout the book are pretty convincing. Who knew we had neon grubs here in New Jersey!

I li
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I loved this book. When I learned last year that monarch caterpillars can only eat milkweed plants, I thought there was something wrong with monarchs. But it turns out 90% of all insect species can only eat one genus of (native) plant. Without diverse insects, birds have nothing to feed their young, and our gardens essentially are not functioning ecosystems. As someone who has always kept critters in mind when gardening, this was sad to realize.

I realized that until I planted milkweed and New E
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Solid information, very readable for the non-botanist, essential message, best descriptions of "bird food" insects ever (how often do insect stories make you grin and laugh out loud? the entomologist in the author really shines), comprehensive list of native plants for various American regions, excellent definition of what "native" really means. Native plants are those that native insects can eat to pass the energy from the sun up to all animals. This book also explains why focusing on "butterfl ...more
Dec 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is the best books I've read on why we need to focus on growing native plants. Because of ever expanding habitat destruction most of our plants are declining in numbers, thereby threatening everything that depends upon them for food. Tallamy makes an extremely strong argument that local gardens are fast becoming the only place left for native plants but most are filled with alien and invasive plants bought at local nurseries and big box stores. Each of us has only so much space and we must c ...more
Holly McIntyre
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a great book! The premise will be no news to an experienced gardener: native plants: good, non-native plants: not good. Tallamy explains why this is so beyond the obviously gargantuan mistakes of having imported kudzu and purple loosestrife. Native plants support an entire biome of insects, birds, and animals with which they co-evolved. Non-natives support of this biome is spotty to non-existent. Moreover, Tallamy asserts, a “pest free” garden is a garden that is not supporting life. While ...more
Molly Ringle
Sep 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Excellent scientific (but approachable) information about why it's important to use native plants in your garden. Will make you look with new eyes at your neighborhood plants, and will likely give you the desire to rip out some of those useless foreign ornamentals, not to mention the hillsides full of invasive Himalayan blackberry. The author is based on the East Coast and some of the plant/animal information is more relevant to that area than to, say, us here in the Pacific Northwest. But the b ...more
Marty Arnold
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Just as Americans in the '40s planted Victory Gardens for the war effort, Doug Tallamy exhorts us to plant native gardens to restore biodiversity and halt the degradation of our planet. Beautifully written and scrupulously researched, Bringing Nature Home is one of those once-in-a-generation books that will change the way you live in the world. If Rachel Carson were alive today, she would have written this book. It is, quite simply, a prayer for our time. ...more
Lili Trenkova
As the quote on the cover says, “If you have a backyard, this book is for you.” Tallamy is an entomologist and regenerative gardener who nails every argument for replacing non-native decorative plant species (used overwhelmingly in the landscape industry) with native species in order to recreate pocket ecosystems and counter deforestation, urbanization and development. Highly recommend to plant-lovers, gardeners, and landscapers.
Jun 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I love Doug Tallamy's books so much that I can't read them before bed otherwise I'm up for hours thinking about plants. ...more
Steve Sanders
Accessible and informative. The topics Tallamy covers are as relavent today as they were when he wrote this in 2009, perhaps even more so.
Jacqueline Masumian
This is a very important book. I heartily recommend Bringing Nature Home to anyone who would like to contribute to a healthy natural ecosystem but does not know how. Doug Tallamy makes a strong case for restoring "the ecological integrity of suburbia in order to prevent the extinction of most of our plants and animals." Because of over-development and fragmentation of animal habitat, we have put our entire ecosystem at risk. And the remedy to this, Tallamy writes, is as simple as replacing alien ...more
May 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone with a garden
This book changed the way I think about my garden. Tallamy's argument is simple and totally convincing: in order to sustain local bird populations, you need an insect population. In order to sustain a population of native insects, you need native plants. Tallamy also provides practical details for planning a garden of native species, and a guide to the plants and insects inhabiting such a garden. From now on I'm going to focus on making my garden contribute to the local wildlife food chain. ...more
Andrea White
Jan 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a clearly written argument for the use of native plants in our gardens, and a scientific explaination of the effects on biodiversity in their absence. Tallamy's analogies, based on scientific data,can change the way we view our gardens and the decisions we make in them. He makes it clear that we all can and must be part of the solution. It's also full of beautiful pictures, mostly of insects (if you like that kind of thing) and the appendixes in the back are a great reference. ...more
Wendy Wagner
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Does a better job explaining the connection between including native plants in your home landscape to the health of invertebrates and birds than anything else I've read. Really informative. Its plant guides aren't super useful for those of us in the PNW, but still inspirational stuff. ...more
This book was the textbook for an Environmental Gardening class I took at our local Audubon. It is life-changing and I recommend it to everyone!
Jay Resnick
Aug 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wonderfully written, and supported by data, he presents an argument for planting native gardens, eliminating invasive and reducing lawns.
Jan 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is the second Tallamy book I have read (Nature's Best Hope is the most recent one), and his message is frightening yet greatly INSPIRING. In a nutshell, we are losing species quickly due to loss of habitat, pesticides, industrial agriculture, and invasive/alien plants that for hundreds of years we have planted in our cities and home gardens.

Over millions of years, plants, insects and birds have evolved together to create abundant ecosystems in particular geographic regions. Birds need enor
Mark Hartzer
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful, well illustrated book with a wonderful, yet simple message: "How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in our Gardens".

The concept is a simple, "Why didn't I think of that? notion", but because Professor Tallamy is actually an entomologist, it carries additional weight. "... 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 for birds and other animals."

Dec 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A really inspiring and informative read for amateur conservationists. We can all do our part to help native plant and wildlife populations thrive, and Tallamy's book provides guidance for doing so in our own backyards. His other book Nature's Best Hope follows the same themes and is a good introduction to the concepts, but this book offers more specificity as well as some amazingly entertaining facts about the insects we encounter in our gardens. ...more
Mar 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great arguments for planting native plants and using diversity in the suburban gardens. He does admit that he "slights" Western North America, but he entirely missed any specific information for the Mountain West. Good theory. ...more
Jun 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful primer on the why and how of integrating native plants into your garden.
Sigrid Fry-Revere
Jun 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I wish I had had this information earlier. His other book Nature's Best Hope is also great. I'm working towards getting my yard certified as wildlife friendly. ...more
I wish I could award more than 5 stars for Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens by Douglas W. Tallamy. This is my newest favorite book!

We all love nature and want to see more birds, butterflies, and other organisms, but I think many of us have forgotten the importance of functional ecosystems. We can’t have the animals we want in isolation. Living animals need food, shelter and space. Fortunately, by planting native plants we can meet all of these needs.

Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really interesting, but as with many similar books, I feel that I would have a hard time taking much of the book's advice. It suggests 15' wide border plantings if you have a small lot... my lot is only 35' wide, which at that point I'm not sure a 15' wide border still constitutes a border. Still, if you have a larger yard and are curious about the interplay between native plant species, beneficial native insect species, and birds--it's certainly an interesting book with useful information! Even ...more
Jul 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Robin by: Fiery
Thank you Fiery Cushman for lending me this book. I have never thought about the bug-bird-plant relationship and its connection to landscape design. Tallamy makes interesting arguments are why all non-native (alient) plans are problemmatic, not just the invasive ones. The problems created are just not obvious to this non-bug person. How would have thought that bugs could be picky eaters?

I am disappointed that Tallamy did not include a list of native plants with wildlife value and desirable lands
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A constant go to in my library since it covers plants and how to sustain the wildlife in ones garden. Love the section on what to plant! I would recommend this book to anyone but especially new gardeners that have an interest in native plant gardening. To quote 'The New York Times' "A fascinating study of the trees, shrubs, and vines that feed the insects, birds, and other animals in the suburban garden." ...more
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Doug Tallamy is a professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, where he has authored 88 research publications and has taught Insect Taxonomy, Behavioral Ecology, Humans and Nature, Insect Ecology, and other courses for 36 years. Chief among his research goals is to better understand the many ways insects interact with plants and how such interaction ...more

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61 likes · 27 comments
“species have the potential to sink or save the ecosystem, depending on the circumstances. Knowing that we must preserve ecosystems with as many of their interacting species as possible defines our challenge in no uncertain terms. It helps us to focus on the ecosystem as an integrated functioning unit, and it deemphasizes the conservation of single species. Surely this more comprehensive approach is the way to go.” 5 likes
“Knowledge generates interest, and interest generates compassion.” 1 likes
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