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  • Jennifer Jewell


Clare Foster and Sabina Rüber. Photo ©Eva Nemeth, all rights reserved.


This week on Cultivating Place, we continue our FRESH STARTS series in conversation with a long established friend in the gardening world, Douglas W. Tallamy. His latest book Nature’s Best Hope envisions a fresh look at and commitment to rethinking how much of suburban United States sees, uses, and cultivates their places, with an eye toward a Homegrown National Park.

Doug is a professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, where he has taught for more than 32 years. He is a member of the Center For Humans and Nature a group of dedicated humans working to expand our Natural and Civic Imaginations. Chief among Doug’s research goals is to better understand the many ways insects interact with plants and how such interactions determine the diversity of animal communities.

His well-loved books include Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens and most recently Nature’s Best Hope, where in he proposes the magnificent idea of a homegrown national park sown and grown with the participation of every one of our gardens.

I spoke with Doug this past summer and the first question I posed to him is WHY – after all of these years at this work, why another book, why this appeal to individual home owners and their yards and gardens? His answer? Because there are millions more people to reach with this powerful message.

“In the past, we have asked one thing of our gardens: that they be pretty. Now [we need them] to support life, sequester carbon, feed pollinators and manage water.” — DOUG TALLAMY

In his newest book, Nature’s Best Hope, Doug lays out the fabulous proposal that if we in the US reduced our currently maintained turf grass by ½ and replaced it with native plants that wildlife loves and depends on for food, shelter, nesting and insect larva, we would have the single largest National Park - contributing to habitat, to air and water quality, and to sequestering and offsetting green house gases, stretching across urban and suburban areas from coast to coast.

Some thoughts on Douglas W. Tallamy's Nature's Best Hope:

"Douglas W. Tallamy’s first book, Bringing Nature Home, awakened thousands of readers to an urgent situation: wildlife populations are in decline because the native plants they depend on are fast disappearing. His solution? Plant more natives. In this new book, Tallamy takes the next step and outlines his vision for a grassroots approach to conservation. Nature’s Best Hope shows how homeowners everywhere can turn their yards into conservation corridors that provide wildlife habitats. Because this approach relies on the initiatives of private individuals, it is immune from the whims of government policy. Even more important, it’s practical, effective, and easy—you will walk away with specific suggestions you can incorporate into your own yard.

If you’re concerned about doing something good for the environment, Nature’s Best Hope is the blueprint you need. By acting now, you can help preserve our precious wildlife—and the planet—for future generations."

You can follow Doug's work online at Homegrown National and on Instagram @homegrownnationalpark

There is a wonderful Smithsonian Magazine article about Tallamy's work and home garden:

RESOURCES from Homegrown Natl Park

(with some additions from Me ;)


Arkansas Monarch Conservation Partnership | Audubon | California Native Plant Society | Ecological Landscape Alliance:

Florida Native Plant Society | Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space | Grow Native Massachusetts | Illinois Landscape Contractors Association & Their annual IMPACT conference:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center / A Guide to Native Plant Gardening | Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center / Find Plants | MC-Iris Monroe County Identify and Reduce Invasive Species | Missouri Prairie Foundation | The National Wildlife Federation - Native Plant Finder | The National Wildlife Federation - Garden for Wildlife | Native Plant Channel | On YouTube and Facebook Native Plant Trust | Plant Native | Pollinator Pathways | Prfct Earth Prjct | REFUGIA Design, PA:

Sag Moraine Native Plant Community | Sourland Conservancy | Weed Wrangle | Wild Ones |

Join us next week when we continue our FRESH STARTS series in conversation with Marylynn Mack, Chief Operating Officer at South Coast Botanic Garden and a powerful leading voice for the American Public Gardens Association. Listen in next week!





I don’t know about you, but I could definitely use more hope and more boosts of green hope already this winter. We can control so very little – but we can control what we focus on and how we grow forward.

I am pleased to share that my first public even of 2021 is coming up on January 26th will be in the company of some wonderful green energy folks for Plant-O-Rama 2021 – a full day virtual event with speakers and trade, fun and future forward thinking. Held in person at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden every year for the past 24 years, for it’s 25th anniversary in these times of Covid-19, join in from anywhere for a fabulous interactive day of speakers and trade show exhibits and friends on your desktop, laptop, or mobile device.

A $30 entrance pass gains you access to the entire day, but don’t feel like you are captive in front of a computer screen. We all have ZOOM fatigue! If you can’t join us online on January 26 presentations will be recorded and available to paid Plant-O-Rama registrants for 2 weeks after the event.

Check into speakers and presentations that appeal to you and visit with exhibitors as time permits. Schedules and times are available at

Speakers include Adrian Benepe, of the BBG, Landscape Architect Signe Nielsen ,and three extraordinary women growing our world and featured in my book The Earth in Her Hands: Leah Penniman of Soul Fire Farm, Midori Shintani of the Tokachi Millenium Forest in Japan, and NYT columnist and creator of A Way To Garden, Margaret Roach.

As I think about this conversation with Doug Tallamy, of the many damaging and off-base so-called Cultural Norms that could use a reset if not complete overhaul - these voices at Plant-O-Rama 2021 are just what we need in our ears and hearts right now. Hope to see you there. January 26th all day – go to to register today!

And hey - to all of you that reached out to me with more questions about connecting Cultivating Place to your local public or community radio station – thank you! I am so happy to partner with you in this way.

If you didn’t have a chance to connect with me, and you have a public or community radio station in your area on which you would like to hear cultivating place - send me an email, I’d be happy to partner with you to introduce your favorite podcast to your favorite radio station. I know I said this last week, but I really think it bears repeating: Public and community radio stations across the country help connect regions, they help support communities, economies, and cultures of care. Cultivatingplace is a great value and a fantastic addition to their programming line-up. 45% of public radio station listeners identify as gardeners – they care about Cultivating their Place!

We have great statistics, great graphics, and out of this world testimonials from you all and from other stations to share. SO again – if you have a public or community radio station in your area on which you would like to hear cultivating place, send me an email and we’ll work together to introduce your favorite podcast to your favorite station. Because Together we grow better.

#cultivatingplace is a #publicradioprogram and #podcast - a co-production of #NorthStatePublicRadio @nsprnews, where it airs every Thursday at 10 am and a Sunday at 9 am Pacific. The full sweep of the work is #LISTENERSUPPORTED through CP is created from a physical base on unceded, traditional lands of the Mechoopda Maidu Indian Tribe of the Chico Rancheria. #decolonizethegarden#decolonisethegarden


All photos by or used courtesy of Douglas W. Tallamy and Homegrown National




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