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

4.42  ·  Rating details ·  815 Ratings  ·  130 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 pressure
Paperback, Updated and Expanded, 360 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by Timber Press (first published November 6th 2007)
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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
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
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
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.
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.
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."
Jul 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Doug Tallamy was the keynote speaker at last week's annual Native Plants Conference in the high mountains of NC. An entomologist, he's working on detailed research on how bird populations are impacted by the availability of insect larvae on native plants, and how important it is for us to jam-pack surburbia with natives. Good speaker, good book - excellent plant lists at the end.
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
Jul 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Tallamy's book gives the scientific basis for emphasizing the planting of native plants. It is a major resource. It includes a nice design for how to improve a typical suburban yard to support more wildlife.
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing book! Every homeowner, landscaper or anyone adding plants to the landscape should read this!!
Vegetable Princess
Jul 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gardening
I got this book because I wanted to understand what I needed to put in my garden, and how I needed to arrange it, to support local wildlife. It turns out that the book is not a how to and it only briefly covers the structure of the garden. Fortunately, the preface reset my expectations immediately & effectively.

The first half of this book was a compelling, scientifically-supported argument for using native plants in urban & suburban gardens. The author translated from serious science to
Oct 06, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Barbara Figlewicz
Wow!!!! Reading this book changed my whole view of gardening. It was actually very upsetting, somewhat like reading Silent Spring by Rachel Carson in the 60s. In this book, the author makes the case for why we, as "regular" gardeners, should be developing "corridors" of native plants tohelp sustain our native insect populations.

I learned so much by reading this book. I learned that so many of our 'wonderful specimen' plants are gorgeous, but do not contribute anything to our environment - plants brought here from China and
Jan 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gardening
This was not an easy book to read, but it WAS an inspiring book to read. I was lucky to have been inspired to read it in response to seeing Dr. Tallamy lecture. Dr. Tallamy does an incredible job of building a case, step-by-step, on how important native plants are to the food web. He tries, almost too hard, to interest us in the beautiful array of insects, spiders, and butterflies that will come to inhabit our yards if we plant native species that provide them with the only food they can eat. He ...more
After getting frustrated with how little permaculturists paid attention to real restoration science, I turned to the native gardening movement for ideas on how to mix human uses and habitat value. That was definitely a good idea. As an entomologist, Tallamy focuses on insects here. He discusses many of the lessons of Plant-Animal Interactions (a direction that class should have pursued), using them to explain why native plants are more ecologically beneficial even though bees may seem to prefer ...more
Aug 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book! It's the most thought-provoking book I've ever read on gardening and environmental stewardship. I had never really realized that exotic plants don't participate as part of the food chain. As I came to realize after reading this book, planting a garden with exotic plants is like setting a table with fine silver and china, inviting your guests to dinner, and omitting the food.

The author would have us completely eliminate exotic plants from our gardens. I'm sure he'll wince if he
May 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
This book made me see the world around me, my immediate world- my neighborhood, the city, the suburbs- in a whole new light. We have planted our yards, cities, and gardens with plants from all over the world, which, while often visually appealing, aren't useful to the insects and animals that live here. We have created suburban deserts for wildlife by planting our yards with lawns and non-native trees, flowers, and shrubs. However, Doug Tallamy gives a wealth of suggestions for how we can repair ...more
Jul 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: gardeners, suburbanites
The clearest argument for going native in your garden that I have ever heard. Native plants provide food for native insects which provide food for native bird/animals. Without native plants, the insects die and so do the birds and animals. What we will be left with are invasives like kudzu, japanese beetles, pigeons, house sparrows -- a sterile monoculture lacking interest and variety. I was recently privileged to hear Dr. Tallamy speak and he is a great lecturer. The photos he had at the lectur ...more
Aug 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a vital book not only for gardeners and landscapers but anyone with influence over a campus, office park landscape, or plot of land large or small. Driven by basic principles of ecology and clear information about plants and their evolutionary relationships to the landscapes they developed in -- or didn't, in the case of alien or invasive species -- this book makes a clear and simple point: if the first link in the food chain is inedible, everything moving up from tiny insects to bigger ...more
Jun 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, garden
Excellent book: the only reason I didn't give it a "5" is because the example plants are not native nor even growable in my area. Yes, there is a little-less-than 2pp list of plants for the "Southwest" but given the range of climates in the southwest, it's not a list that is directly applicable to me. On the other hand, the premise of the book and the implications are immensely useful here and everywhere. I never thought about insects and their role in keeping a garden or a whole geographical ar ...more
Aug 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gardening
Want to know what all the fuss about using native plants is about? Read this book. Before I read this book I knew that using plants native to a region was good for water conservation, but I had no idea how critical they are for sustaining the local food web. After I finished the book I felt guilty about the exotic plants I had purchased for my yard (mainly roses), and resolved to do better in the future.

Basically this book lays out the science that native plants support native insects which feed
Apr 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've known for years that it's "important" to use native plants in our gardens, and that alien species are "bad". But not until I read this book did I fully understand the whys and whats of it all. I'm one of those people who isn't likely to really get on board with a movement unless I know WHY it's important, so I'm now motivated to take action in my own yard and I feel better able to explain to other people why it matters. And the best part of the whole book was his comment that our efforts to ...more
Jan 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book for many reasons, most importantly because now I understand the concerns with invasive alien plants and the need to preserve our native varieties in a way I never have before. Most alien species to North America are not recognized or eaten by local insects. As local insect populations decrease the base of the food web decreases, thereby limiting the number of other species that can exist within the local food web. The book describes many interactions between specific native pla ...more
Dec 08, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Members of the Herb Society of America
Obviously the author is an entomologist. He did write about native plants but it's mostly about native bugs and what they eat. In spite of my dislike of insects I really enjoyed this book. I read every word about the insects and it was very entertaining. If I want to have pretty songbirds in my yard they need those bugs to feed their young. And I need to learn to ignore those munched leaf parts where my native bugs had dinner. It's a trade off. I was so inspired by this book that I just bought a ...more
May 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entomologist Doug Tallamy urges us to plant more native species so that insects can eat them. Harsh, right? But it turns out that if you want to save the birds, you need to offer them food, and insects are the most important food on their menus. Even seed eaters need these protein packed morsels to feed their young. And it also turns out that insects are picky food specialists (think giant pandas and bamboo) and most cannot eat alien species. When you add in our monoculture lawns, elimination of ...more
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“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.” 3 likes
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