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Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants (Updated and Expanded)

By Doug Tallamy

Foreword by Rick Darke

The perfect antidote to the belief that nature happens somewhere else. If you have a backyard, this book is for you — get outside and learn about the wildlife around you, and then do something to make a haven for species at risk.

Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods

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 wildlife — native insects cannot, or will not, eat alien plants. When native plants disappear, the insects disappear, impoverishing the food source for birds and other animals. In many parts of the world, habitat destruction has been so extensive that local wildlife is in crisis and may be headed toward extinction.

Bringing Nature Home has sparked a national conversation about the link between healthy local ecosystems and human well-being, and the new paperback edition — with an expanded resource section and updated photos — will help broaden the movement. By acting on Douglas Tallamy's practical recommendations, everyone can make a difference.

Awards for this book: Garden Writers Association Silver Award

Media reviews

"Tallamy explains in beautiful prose the importance of native plants to our wildlife."

Cleveland Plain Dealer

"This is the 'it' book in certain gardening circles. It's really struck a nerve."

—Virginia A. Smith, Philadelphia Inquirer

"Provides the rationale behind the use of native plants, a concept that has rapidly been gaining momentum. The impact on our environment is huge. The text makes a case for native plants and animals in a compelling and complete fashion."

—Joel M. Lerner, Washington Post

"This book not only shows how important native plants are but also how easy they can be to incorporate into a landscape plan."

—Marianne Binetti, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"A fascinating study of the trees, shrubs, and vines that feed the insects, birds, and other animals in the suburban garden."

—Anne Raver, New York Times

"I want to mention how excited I am about reading Bringing Nature Home. ... I like the writing — enthusiastic and down-to-earth, as it should be."

—Elizabeth Licata, Garden Rant

"This book belongs in every gardener's library."

—Scott Shalaway, Parkersburg News and Sentinel

"Douglas Tallamy is the guru of the habitat gardening movement sweeping the country."

—Christine Aquilino, Arlington Advocate

"Offers a clear, science-based and ultimately understandable 'how-to' for ensuring ecologically balanced gardens and wildlife-rich residential landscapes."

Daytona Beach News-Journal

"My book of choice of the year."

—Sally Cunningham, Buffalo News

"Doug Tallamy's book is a gift. It's not the kind of gift wrapped with a pink ribbon and a tiny rose tucked into the bow. It's the kind of gift that shakes you to your core and sets you on the path of healing. Your garden. Your planet. One plant at a time. Open it."

—Kathryn Hall, Plant Whatever Brings You Joy

"A delight to read and a most needed resource."

—Cheryl Cadwell, Warwick Beacon (Warwick, RI)

"The book that is going to change how gardening is conducted over the next century."

Ants, Bees, Birds, Butterflies, Nature Blog

"Opens our eyes to an environmental problem of staggering proportions. Fortunately, it also shows us how we can help."

—Judy Brinkerhoff, Petaluma Argus-Courier

"Illustrates well how gardeners have contributed greatly to tipping the environment off balance and how they are equally able to turn the trend. ... Plants and insects are integrally intertwined. Understanding the beauty of these relationships deepens our appreciation of our gardens and the important role we play."

—David Bare, Winston-Salem Journal

"Tallamy makes such a compelling case for the importance of insects to birds that I've completely changed the way I garden. From now on, insect attractors are my first choices."

—Val Cunningham, Birding Business

"I am reading [this] with great enjoyment. ... I am finding new ideas in his book and continued inspiration to talk about the problems and the answers."

—Judy Brinkerhoff, Petaluma Argus-Courier

"This informative book delivers an important message for all gardeners: Choosing native plants fortifies birds and other wildlife and protects them from extinction."

—Jessie H. Barry, Wild Bird

"With Carsonic remonstrance, Tallamy communicates a hopeful message: it's not too late to save the ecological community of fauna and the answer is as simple as replacing foreign plants with natives."

—John Bagnasco, Garden Compass

"What a delight ... to acknowledge that the voice of reason — and an eloquent one at that — has entered the fray. ... Fascinating insight that's presented in an engaging manner perfectly tuned for gardeners of every stripe. ... Worth your while."

—Felicia Parsons, Northern Gardener

"Filled with beautiful photographs of insects, plants, birds, and hard data presented in an easy-to-read style, Bringing Nature Home is a book every conservationist should read carefully."

—Kay Charter, Windstar Wildlife Institute Blog

"Tallamy explains eloquently how native plant species depend on native wildlife. ... Dedicated gardeners will find his descriptions of the plants and insects (bird food) interesting."

San Luis Obispo Tribune

"Filled with beautiful photographs of insects, plants, and birds and hard data presented in an easy-to-read style, 'Bringing Nature Home' will persuade all of us to take a look at what is in our own yards with an eye to how we, too, can make a difference. It has already changed me."

—Kay Charter, Traverse City Record-Eagle

"Combines the passion which many of us have, with the science, and that's a winning combination."

—Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp, Indianapolis Star

"A call to arms. There is not much ordinary citizens can do to create large new preserves. But we can make better use of the small green spaces we have around our houses. While the situation in the United States is quite serious, Tallamy offers options that anyone with a garden, even a postage-stamp-sized one like mine, can do to help."

—Tammar Stein, St. Petersburg Times

"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."

—Anne Raver, New York Times

"We all know where resistance to natives, reliance on pesticides, and the cult of the lawn still reign supreme: suburban America. And suburban America is where Doug Tallamy aims the passionate arguments for natives and their accompanying wildlife contained in his wonderful book."

—Elizabeth Licata, Garden Rant

"An informative and engaging account of the ecological interactions between plants and wildlife, this fascinating handbook explains why exotic plants can hinder and confuse native creatures, from birds and bees to larger fauna."

—Ann Lovejoy, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"Full of information to motivate us — and contains lists and resources to help us get started."

—Christine Aquilino, Arlington Advocate

"There is much to learn in the field of biodiversity and this is a perfect place to start and continue that education."

—Sonia von Matt Stoddard, Awareness Magazine

"Buy, borrow, or steal this book! It is essential reading with ideas that need to become part of our understanding of how life works on this planet."

Prairie Moon Nursery Blog

"This book will not only foster a love of the outdoors in all who read it, but also create a deeper understanding and appreciation of the intricate web of wildlife outside your door."

—Andy Bennett, Cabin Life

"You can look at this book as a manifesto explaining why we should favor native plants, but it's much more than that. It's a plan to sustain the endangered biodiversity and even more, it's a plan to transform suburbia from an environmental liability to an environmental asset."

—Raz Godelnik, Eco-Libris Blog

"[A] book that opened my eyes. ... Tallamy illustrates well how gardeners have contributed greatly to tipping the environment off balance and how they are equally able to turn the trend."

—David Bare, Statesville Record & Landmark

"We may not be aware that there is more to the need for natives than concern about invasive species that upset an ecosystem. According to Tallamy, a balanced ecosystem needs more insects. It is when the balance of the system is disrupted that problems arise."

—Pat Leuchtman, Recorder

"People in the gardening world are calling Douglas W. Tallamy's book on native plants the next Silent Spring, Rachel Carson's 1962 book that warned of the dangers of chemical pesticides and helped launch the modern-day environmental movement."

—Bill Cary, Westchester Journal News

"Reading this book will give you a new appreciation for the natural world — and how much wild creatures need gardens that mimic the disappearing wild."

—Val Cunningham, Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Easy, thought-provoking, and stimulating to read."

—Ilene Sternberg, Green Scene

"Tallamy's tome is school-in-a-book for the nursery acquisitions person, the plant aficionado, the individual looking for the most effective and sensible way to grow a natural garden and support the environment."

Bloomin' News

"I rank this as the most important gardening book I've read. It's about ecology and about gardening, but it's more than that. It's both inspiring and sobering."

—Janet Allen, Upstate Gardeners' Journal

"A book that plant lovers as well as insect lovers can enjoy."

Wild Foods Forum

"Tallamy builds his case with research-based facts enhanced with engaging personal stories. ... [He] offers inspirational native design ideas with a focus on creating balanced landscapes and increasing biodiversity. ... Logical and convincing, this book is an essential guide for anyone interested in increasing biodiversity in the garden."

—Deborah Smith-Fiola, American Gardener

"An eloquently written theory, offering recommendations for conservation to gardeners everywhere."

Buffalo Spree

"Makes a powerful case for native plants in our landscapes. This is a fascinating look at how importing exotic plants into your garden can negatively affect native birds, bees, and wildlife. Tallamy offers an engaging argument for the power of gardeners to contribute to maintaining biodiversity."

—Maia Eisen, Tacoma East King Trailhead

About the author

Doug Tallamy

Doug Tallamy is currently professor and chair of the department of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware, where he has taught insect taxonomy, behavioral ecology, and other subjects. He won the Silver Medal from the Garden Writer's Association for his book, Bringing Nature Home.

Read more about Doug Tallamy

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