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

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  1,075 ratings  ·  163 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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4.43  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,075 ratings  ·  163 reviews

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Mar 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Doug Tallamy brings the concepts of biodiversity, systems for ecological benefit, and conservation for the health and well-being of life on earth, right into our very own back yards. And he uses his own back yard as an experimental station for his entomological studies, tying together for the reader the tight interelationships between plants and animals. This book is a gardener's bible, a landscaper's helper, and just an all-round good read for any of us who tend any kinds of plants in any size ...more
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Jan 15, 2012 rated it did not like it
This is the standard native plant ideology in a nutshell. The only thing new about it is that was written by someone claiming to be a scientist. It is full of absurd contradictions such as "I know native insects only eat native plants because the native plants in my garden are being eaten by insects" vs. "If you use native plants in your garden you won't have to use pesticides."
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!
Nov 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in sustainability, ecosystems, environmentalism, gardening
Recommended to Anthony by: Woman from local native plant society
This book forces one to think one or two levels deeper about most suburban American yards and really question what each individual can do to help restore our native habitats, which have been decimated by human activities. Aside from recycling and not using fertilizer it was too easy to think "sustainability" was someone else's problem or that government and industry would find a solution one day. Douglas Tallamy puts the ball back in the individual's court by eloquently and rationally explaining ...more
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is one of the first books on native gardening and wildlife I read and it hasn't been surpassed. Doug Tallamy is a professor at the University of Delaware and he must be a great professor because he excels at making science entertaining and easy to understand. This is the kind of information that should be taught in schools but sadly isn't. The premise might sound like old hat to an experienced gardener but it really is still worth reading. I still rattle off facts I learned in this boo ...more
May 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
It kind of feels dirty not to give Tallamy a 5 for this book, because this is the kind of book that can change lives. That it didn't change mine is only a matter of time; I heard him give a talk when I was an undergraduate, and have since learned, in depth, much of the ecology that he puts forth in a much more lay-accessible way in this touchstone text. But here's the deal: "Bringing Nature Home" is the kind of book that every gardener in North America should read. Tallamy gently guides the read ...more
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book totally changed the way I think about native trees, so much so that when I finished I started thinking about who I could buy this book for.

I bought this book after seeing a presentation by Doug Tallamy (which was amazing--if you have the chance to see him, you should go even if you've already read the book). As volunteer Baltimore City Treekeeper and self-identified tree nerd, I read a fair amount about trees, attend lectures, etc. and so I'd heard people say you should plant natives
Pat Delwiche
Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have wanted to read this book for years; it is often cited as an authoritative source on the subject of habitat restoration. The author, an entomologist, recommends actions the home gardener can take to enhance biological richness in the natural world. He manages to explain without being pedantic, and conveys complicated concepts with engaging personal stories. The beautifully illustrated book has the potential to turn an entomophobe into an enthusiast. The only reason I did not give a higher ...more
Kathy Averbeck
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
With our brand new home being built and thinking about the landscaping we have to do, I am interested in doing what we can to improve the planet with the landscape. This book worked to confirm my wishes to avoid non-native species and instead work with native plants that will provide food for insects and birds. Since most people aren't in a position to start from scratch with their landscape, the author does inspire the reader to gradually convert their lawns into gardens that will provide food ...more
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Go out immediately and plant some native trees, shrubs, grasses and flowers. Tallamy makes a good argument as to why we need them. Native insects can't live on imported plants. When there are no insects, soon there will be no birds. Life will be lonely without birds. He gives all the reasons why to plant native, major questions he gets asked about planting native, even how to convince your neighbors that a native garden is the right thing to do. He has lists of native plants for each region of t ...more
Sep 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great explanation by an entomologist of the importance of planting native species to sustain insects, which are eaten by birds, animals, and other insects. Our use of ornamental plants imported from other continents chokes out native plants (think of kudzu) and provides no food for native fauna. Rather than plant solely for aesthetics, Tallamy argues, we should plant to support the ecosystem. He encourages grassroots action to encourage and support native species -- by planting native species in ...more
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was so incredibly prescient. Here we are in 2019 with headlines that insect populations are declining worldwide. Tallamy forever changed the way I view gardening and landscape. I was already a native plant convert but used to get upset when I noticed more grasshoppers on my native plants. No more. Embrace your insects, because they transfer energy to the birds, and without them, the whole ecosystem crumbles. I want to give this book to everyone who has a yard.
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent, even through a bit of a veil of privilege. I appreciate the thorough, scientific discussion of how ecosystems work and how this relates to the home gardener. I do, however, find the author's reference to his ten-acre plot a little telling. It can be difficult and expensive to reimagine one's garden and lawn - if one has any in the first place - and I wish there had been a supplement or appendix describing more inexpensive, small-scale changes one could make.
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."
Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another great book illustrating the benefits of native plant gardening. Well written from a scientific background with language suited for anyone regardless of their science knowledge. Having read several books on this topic, his entomological perspective was refreshing and further added to the growing list of reasons to plant native.
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love this book! Well written and thought provoking.

While I do provide habitat in my yard, I could better, and will be adding more and more elements as time goes by because I'm so inspired by this lovely book.

I have trees, shrubs, and flowers, but by simply adding a birdbath I have attracted breeding birds. Very exciting to help the native species!
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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
“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.” 4 likes
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