Bringing Nature Home - Doug Tallamy's Game-Changing Book for Residential Gardeners

On Thursday, August 4, Doug Tallamy will lecture on "A Chickadee's Guide to Gardening" here in Columbus, Ohio. I think you should attend this free talk, and here's WHY: I read his book, Bringing Nature Home several years ago, and it rocked my gardening world. It brought together several threads I'd been wrestling with as a landscape designer and garden coach, such as...

Who chooses the plants available for sale at a garden center, and do they consider the short- and long-term impact on local ecosystems? Which native plants have the greatest benefit to native songbirds and insects? How and where do I incorporate native plants in the landscape? And finally, how to I keep my design and coaching practice GREEN?

The last question is not in jest. It occurred to me over the years that much of the plant material I had access to came from Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia... far-away places that may have shared our climate zone but not much else. Some of these plants required tons of pesticides to prevent them from being eaten to the ground, while others remained completely untouched. What was going on? I was growing uncomfortable with spraying pesticides - essentially, insect neurotoxins and hormone-disruptors - in places that were supposed to be "nature." And other plants, while lovely, seemed to serve no purpose aside from structural ornamentation, like a nice table lamp or a trendy paint color. My landscape design practice began to feel like a exercise in "exterior decorating." I began to question the purpose of each plant in my designs. From a synopsis excerpt on

"The pressures on wildlife populations today are greater than they have ever been and many gardeners assume they can remedy this situation by simply planting a variety of flowering perennials, trees, and shrubs. As Douglas Tallamy points out in this revelatory book, that assumption is largely mistaken. Wild creatures exist in a complex web of interrelationships, and often require different kinds of food at different stages of their development...

I started to explore the relationships between plants, animals, fungi, etc. in our Midwest ecosystem. How could I make a positive change in the garden industry as a garden coach, designer, and eco-educator?

"[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.

I love Bringing Nature Home because it lays out the problem AND provides workable, real-life solutions based on different areas of the United States. It points to suburbia (like much of the Midwest) as the potential lifeline between land re-development and restoring our native wildlife. This book had an enormous impact on my decision to emphasize backyard biodiversity in everything I do as a landscape designer and garden coach. And guess what? It's not that hard to do!

There is always more to learn and think about, and we have a lot of challenges ahead of us. I'll be at this talk on August 4th, and I hope I see you there!

  • Thursday, August 4th at 7 pm

  • Grange Insurance Audubon Center, 505 W Whittier St, Columbus, OH 43215 (near the Scioto Mile and Bicentennial Park)

  • FREE (donations always welcome)

Event details:

More info:

Tisa Watts

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