Native plants feed native insects which are a major food source for native birds...and so on.

Important information for gardeners:  native plants—not species from foreign lands—feed native insects.  And native insects are a major food source for native birds…and so on up the food chain. That’s according to behavioral ecologist Doug Tallamy from the University of Delaware.  His and others’ research shows that our sterile lawns and exotic plant species from other countries are not feeding our wildlife; native insects cannot survive on alien plant species.

“Restoring native plants to most human-dominated landscapes is relatively easy to do,” Doug says.  He suggests planting belts of native trees, shrubs, and perennials around the perimeter of your yard, while placing your favorite exotic species, like Japanese maples, azaleas, and tulips, nearer to the house. 

If whole communities started planting this way, we’d create shared woodlands where the collection of plants and animals could live in relative balance.

Doug Tallamy’s book, Bringing Nature Home (Timber Press, 2007), which makes a compelling case for gardeners everywhere to include native plants in their home landscapes. 

The sketches included here illustrate how a typical suburban home can be landscaped with native plants around its perimeter. If whole neighborhoods do this, they can create wildlife corridors that sustain populations of insects, birds, and animals.

Photo/Illustration: 
Drawings by Jana Bryan of JMMDS.

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