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Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  1,168 ratings  ·  176 reviews
"If you cut down the goldenrod, the wild black cherry, the milkweed and other natives, you eliminate the larvae, and starve the birds. This simple revelation about the food web—and it is an intricate web, not a chain—is the driving force in Bringing Nature Home." —The New York Times

As development and subsequent habitat destruction accelerate, there are increasing pressures
Paperback, Updated and Expanded, 360 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by Timber Press (first published November 6th 2007)
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4.43  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,168 ratings  ·  176 reviews

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Andreia ♡The Butterfly Lover♡
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.
Dec 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Tim Gannon
Feb 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Marty Arnold
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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
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  ·  review of another edition
Wonderfully written, and supported by data, he presents an argument for planting native gardens, eliminating invasive and reducing lawns.
Jacqueline Masumian
Oct 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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  ·  review of another edition
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
May 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Andrea White
Jan 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 15, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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."
Apr 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Mark Hartzer
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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."

Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As someone who applies bug repellent indoors so as not to disturb or offend any actual bugs, I feel like I have finally found a kindred spirit in Doug Tallamy. This book gives me renewed hope for my insect friends. Now I’m not just looking for plants and trees for their native value and their landscape fit, but what insect do they feed, and what birds and animals rely on those insects? My appreciation for interesting and beautiful larval forms of moths and butterflies has skyrocketed. I only wis ...more
May 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: design
10/5 stars. Essential Reading for all humans.
This book simply breaks down how we have systematically dismantled nature and turned much of our planet into a ecological desert through the use of lawns, ornamental horticulture, development, agriculture, chemicals and ignorance. The resulting habitats and ecosystems are small remnants of fragmented land, overrun with invasive-inedible plants and collapsing insect populations. Luckily, this book also gives us the tools to put our natural places back
Pat Delwiche
Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kathy Averbeck
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Excellent. hands down my new favorite gardening book. I only wish I had read it sooner. Tallamy breaks down really well how native plants sustain our environments and enhances biodiversity. I thought I had a good grasp on these ideas already but I learned a lot from this book and I only wish I had read it sooner! if you have any interest in plants, gardening, and insects, this is the book for you. you do not need a lot of space, experience, or time to apply the knowledge this books offers. The H ...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
“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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