Book Review:: Real Gardens Grow Natives

518XvBKJTwL._SX410_BO1,204,203,200_We’re lucky to live in a region with bountiful books on creating wildlife habitat and Pacific Northwest gardeners now have one more choice to add to their bookshelves. Real Gardens Grow Natives: design, plant & enjoy a healthy northwest garden by Eileen M. Stark is the latest offering on this topic. The book is packed full of useful information and focuses not only on creative a landscape  using native plants for wildlife, but delves deeper into more detailed content such as the soil, propagation and sharing the benefits of native plants.

Stark gives a useful overview on ecology and explains some key ideas such as ‘habitat’ and ‘diversity’. The first chapter explains the elements of habitat – from water and food to the benefit of dead trees. With the groundwork laid, Stark moves swiftly onto the basics of design and…

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Book Review:: Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden

9781604693881lAs one who spends a fair amount of time crawling around my yard in search of interesting insects, I was, needless to say, excited to see a new book from Timber Press with the title Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control. It’s written by horticulturist and self-proclaimed ‘bug lover’ Jessica Walliser. With a quick glance through the book, it’s easy to see it’s up to the typical high standard of Timber Press books and full of wonderful and inspiring images of beautiful bug-friendly gardens.

As this is not a typical sort of book that gardeners might be drawn to, (usually it’s more along the lines of how to get rid of bugs instead of attract them) Walliser makes several confessions in the introduction which states how she came to love…

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Hedgerows From Romans to Habitat


This is a revised and updated post which was originally published on June 2, 2010.


Although not as significant in the US as in the UK, hedgerows nonetheless offer a valuable design opportunity for wildlife habitat. In the simplest terms, a hedgerow is a row of wild trees and shrubs, packed closely together. In the UK they have a very long and interesting history, dating back thousands of years. They were a mixed blessing, good for wildlife, but very bad for peasant farmers. Historically, hedgerows were the remnants of woodlands cleared to make way for agricultural fields. With the passing of the Enclosure Acts of the 18th and 19th centuries, hedgerows were created in great numbers throughout much of the UK as a fencing boundary. Prior to this farming was done in open, common fields. The result of the Enclosure Acts was that peasant farmers, or those who failed to prove…

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Book Review:: Gardening for the Birds

9781604694093lWhenever I see another book about landscaping or gardening for the birds come out, I’m usually dubious. My shelves are full of generic guides on how to attract birds and unsurprisingly, they’re much the same. They usually focus heavily on bird feeders, bird baths and plants which are often labeled as native, yet are only really native to small portions of the country. It’s a very hard thing to write a book for the whole, giant, diverse continent and nearly every single one I have seen makes little attempt to address this in the plant choices. They instead list various plants, but don’t specify where exactly they are native. My go-to book for a long time has been Landscaping for Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest because it’s so specific to my region and has excellent plant information. Unfortunately, few…

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Book Review:: Ladybirds

Ladybirds-jacket-frontThe newly released 2nd edition of Ladybirds is number 10 in Pelagic Publishing’s Naturalist’s Handbook series. If this series sounds familiar it’s because I reviewed the Bumblebees book here and found it a phenomenal resource for learning about the life history of bumblebees. Thus I was very excited to receive a copy of Ladybirds and hoped it would be just as enlightening about a very common insect. I found I wasn’t disappointed and learned a great deal about an insect which we often overlook simply because they’re everywhere. Like Bumblebees it focuses on British species, but the first few chapters are about the general life history of lady beetles and they are full of fascinating information. In addition, there are a couple of species which have been introduced to North America and are covered in detail in…

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Book Review:: Ecosystem Services Come to Town

61qKV133GALThe most important objective in the management of the environment must the the maintenance of biodiversity and the habitats that support it, because without this we cannot survive.

When a book has a quote like this, it’s a must-have for me. Ecosystem Services Come to Town: Greening Cities by Working With Nature is a new book by Gary Grant, published last year by Wiley-Blackwell. It’s an excellent overview of urban design which features a topic near and dear to this blog, urban biodiversity. Too many books on urban design focus on solar power, alternative transportation, energy efficient buildings, zero waste and other buzz words but leave out the rest including habitat and plants. With the subheading of ‘Greening Requires Greenery’ in the conclusion, Grant illustrates perfectly something I’ve been trying to say for a long time:

Remember that a city, neighborhood or building…

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