books come and go, offering much of the same about
container gardening, multi-season landscapes and weed
and pest control.
Tallarmy’s books, however, strike a different chord
and grab the gardener’s attention, especially anyone
who wants to garden close to nature.
newest book, "The Living Landscape: Designing for
beauty and biodiversity in the home garden," is no
exception. Co-authored with Rick Darke, the book follows
Tallamy’s earlier publication, "Bringing Home
Nature," which is all about native planting and
biodiversity. It promotes less lawn and more native
species, and includes recommendations.
Living Landscape" is not about native plants,
although it certainly includes them. Instead, it’s
lesson in the layers of wild landscapes and how they can
be incorporated into urban living. The 400-page hardback
is attractively priced at $25.
the new book, the authors guide you through the layers
of a wild landscape — ground layer, tall canopy trees,
smaller understory trees, shrubs, wet edges and
wetlands, meadows and grasslands — and birds in every
of full-color photos, mostly of wildlife and plants
common to everyday life — a great blue heron perched
on a branch fallen across water and tiger swallowtails
"puddling" at the edge of a wet woodland —
take you on a guided walk through habitats that make
nature work like it should. The hope is that you will be
motivated to incorporate at least some of those settings
into your own yard, so home landscapes become part of
the solution, not part of the problem.
yards are part of local ecosystems," says Tallamy,
who uses photos of private and public gardens, as well
as his own 10-acre property, as examples in the book.
the past, we thought nature operated someplace else, and
that was good enough. So we designed our yards for
beauty, but not for ecological function. Today, there is
not enough nature left to create the ecosystem services
that support humans, so we now have to produce ecosystem
services at home."
more homeowners are realizing the need to establish
functioning landscapes, adds Tallamy, but developers are
dragging behind. And, it doesn’t take much to make a
living landscape successful at what it needs to
accomplish, he says.
does not have to be the default landscaping in
cities," he says.
at how successful the highline in Manhattan has been. A
thin strip of vegetation is supporting monarchs and
several species of native bees. Flowering plants on
rooftop gardens can do the same. Even tiny city lots can
support trees, provide shade, help the watershed and
lower the heat island effect."
book uses lots of photos and captions to show and
explain how a walk in the woods demonstrates the
different layers that can be duplicated on a smaller
scale in a yard. Look for caterpillars, Tallamy
suggests, because they are the most important component
of food webs. Or just look for plant diversity, and you
should hear lots of birds.
home and attempt to achieve what you have seen, felt and
will probably design our landscapes more as edge habitat
than deep woods," he says.
we can bring lots of life into our landscapes even if we
keep them manicured and well designed. We just have to
use productive plants.
you convince your neighbors to add plants as you are
doing, you now have a much larger patch of habitat to
work with. But even a small garden can be productive. A
small patch of milkweed in Dover, Del., produced 150
monarchs in one summer."
should gardeners and non-gardeners care about
is the species in an ecosystem that produce the
ecosystem services that keep humans alive," says
example, if we lose our pollinators, we will lose not
just many of our crops, but 80 percent of all plant
species and 90 percent of all flowering plants. Not an
option if we want to remain on this planet. Shopping
centers won’t do it for us. We need ecosystem function
everywhere, and the more species in an ecosystem the
more ecosystem function we will get. Since we occupy
nearly the entire planet, we must share the entire
planet with the things that keep us alive. Creating
living landscapes is not a fad; it is an essential part
of our future."