BRINGING NATURE HOME - AN ONGOING ENTREATY with DOUG TALLAMY
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This week on Cultivating Place we speak with Doug Tallamy – a home gardener with his wife, Cindy, and Professor of Entomology at the University of Delaware, in Newark. Ten years ago, in 2007, he published the first edition of a watershed book "Bringing Nature Home – how Native Plants sustain wildlife in our gardens" (Timber Press). It could have easily been further subtitled: "and why we should care." In our conversation, Doug shares with us his own journey from being a nature loving child to being an educator and advocate for nature.
The book "Bringing Nature Home – How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in our Gardens" was something of watershed book. Originally published in 2007, its expanded edition two years later with updated photos and more resources only increased the importance of its message.
The native plant movement was not new at the time, but with this book – its message was brought home to the general gardening public. In it Doug Tallamy made clear the correlation between what the research was showing in terms of loss of habitat and biodiversity, and how important our own home gardens and landscapes COULD be to improving the outlook for plants, for insects, birds and all other wildlife – indeed for the very future and health of our planet.
“ The general public does notice the loss of the things that they grew up with, they don’t see the fireflies anymore, there are fewer birds, they’re concerned about that. A lot of people hadn’t put it into words, but they’re concerned about it, and then I come along saying - Hey, there’s something you can do about it. This is an environmental problem where you can act and actually see results.”
Doug's concepts for thinking about the relative importance of the plants in our gardens for supporting our local ecosystem are insights I’m taking copious notes on - and many of them are beautifully articulated in both "Bringing Nature Home" and in "The Living Landscape" (Timber Press) which he collaborated on with Rick Darke.
As news on the health of our environments around the world only seems to worsen, such as the news out of Germany in a report this past fall on insect diversity, Doug’s writing and speaking around the country on the importance of the biodiversity of insects and our garden’s important role in supporting them is helpful and inspiring as we head into a new season of planning our gardens for the coming year. I for one will be keeping in mind the handful of beautiful and important plant genera that can help you transform your garden into one that supports the ecological health of your region - trying to make room for oak, prunus, willow.
It's making connections - mentally and emotionally - like hearing about the journey of Doug and his wife on their own 10 acres of land – planting 1000s of trees, which now help to heat their house, and counting caterpillars - that makes Cultivating Place what it is to me. What are your plans in your garden in 2018 - does your plan include welcoming as much biodiversity as you can? I'd love to hear from you - follow along on Instagram and Facebook.
Doug Tallamy is the keynote speaker at the California Native Plant Society Conservation Conference in Los Angeles in January and February of 2018.
Cultivating Place is an award-winning co-production of North State Public Radio, where it airs every Thursday at 10 am PST.