Meadow fritillary (Melitaea parthenoides) butterfly resting on flower with bright green background

While we are sequestered with winter weather, I thought it a good time to suggest one of my new favorite books, “Nature’s Best Hope,” by Douglas Tallamy.

This book first came to my attention after my daughter heard him speak at Shepherd University in West Virginia. She lent me her copy of “Nature’s Best Hope” and I was hooked.

For the last 20 years I’ve read Audubon Society predictions that our bird population is decreasing drastically. Weather reports highlight a continual stream of extreme weather events. What can I do to help counteract these drastic changes to our environment?

Tallamy suggests actions to preserve native plants and he tells in simple, direct everyday language, why preserving our plants will help birds, other animals, and we humans to survive. He lays out simple steps. I was surprised to read some of his suggestions in a recent issue of the Northeast Florida Chapter of the Sierra Club sent to my inbox.

A “Native Plant Update” by Lisa Williams made some suggestions that sounded a lot like Tallamy’s advice:

“1 Leave yard waste, such as leaves and small sticks in your yard. This provides a home for small reptiles, bees, and many small overwintering butterfly and moth species.

2 Make a woodpile of small branches that blow into your yard.

3 Leave dead stems intact on your purple coneflower, milkweed and elderberries, and more, to provide shelter for solitary bees that overwinter in their hollow stems.

4 Don’t dig up your garden until spring. Some bees and insects nest in the ground and you will disturb them.”

Last fall I was planting daffodil bulbs about 5” deep in my front yard, and when I looked down, I had unearthed a large stiff hibernating frog. He was tucked in for the winter as it was already below freezing. His eyes were tight shut. He never woke. I put him back where he was and covered him carefully. Hopefully he will emerge again in spring, in spite of being momentarily disturbed.

I was not asked to recommend Douglas Tallamy’s books, and I make no profit. I thought “Nature’s Best Hope” and “The Nature of Oaks” were the best reading. Tallamy also has a book in paperback called “Bringing Nature Home.” It is more difficult to read because it is written in a more scientific style. After all, he is a professor at the University of Maryland.

I’d love to hear what you think and what changes you may be making in your gardening style. You can email me at ssmcdon2003@yahoo.com.

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