Nature’s Best Hope

I got my Amazon subscription credit renewed a few days ago and decided to listen to another Douglas Tallamy book, Nature’s Best Hope. Long story short: it presents very little new material from his previous book, Bringing Nature Home. But that’s good.

Hope makes the same argument that Home did a few years before: we are in a severe biodiversity crisis. Public lands like national parks are woefully insufficient to prevent ecosystem collapse: they are too small and too far apart. But homeowners can help avoid the worst of biodiversity loss by making a rapid and radical switch to native plants in their yards and gardens.

But Hope is a much tighter and more urgent argument. Tallamy trimmed away the long catalogs of insect genera and eastern tree species, and got the book down to the essentials: you have to plant native plants, you have to do it now, here are the ways you can find the right plants for your region.

Both books come to me as my family works on a yard and garden for our new house. The previous owners had left large parts of the yard untended. What I thought were wild plants when we bought the house turned out to be runaway invasive species from our neighbors’ yards. We’ve spent the year digging out goutweed, alder buckthorn and Japanese knotweed. We’re finally getting enough space cleared to plant native sugar maples and red oaks, plus native bushes like blueberry. And we’ve freed up some space for existing saplings to grow, like a butternut, eastern cottonwood, and balsam poplar.

Hope is going to be my stocking stuffer book this year for all my friends and family with property. I hope (!) they enjoy it as much as I have.

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