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Old 05-27-2010, 09:56 PM   #1
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Default A Call for Backyard Biodiversity - Douglas Tallamy

Acclaimed author and ecologist Douglas Tallamy explains the reasons behind the decline of native flora and fauna, and how we can work to reverse it from our own backyards.

—photos and story by Douglas Tallamy—

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You have probably never thought of your property as a wildlife preserve representing the last chance we have to sustain plants and animals that were once common throughout the U.S. But that is exactly the role our suburban and urban landscapes are now playing - and will play even more in the near future.
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Somewhere along the way we decided to convert the forests that used to cover our living and working spaces into huge expanses of lawn dotted with a few small, mostly nonnative trees. So far we have planted over 62,500 square miles - some 40 million acres - in lawn. Each weekend we mow an area eight times the size of New Jersey to within an inch of the soil and then congratulate ourselves on a job well done.
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What will it take to give our local animals what they need to survive and reproduce on our properties? Native plants, and lots of them. This is a scientific fact deduced from thousands of studies about how energy moves through food webs.
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We can no longer landscape with aesthetics as our only goal. We must also consider the function of our landscapes if we hope to avoid a mass extinction that we ourselves are not likely to survive.
http://www.americanforests.org/productsandpubs/magazine/archives/autumn09/A_Call_For_Backyard_Biodiversity.pdf

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Old 05-27-2010, 10:37 PM   #2
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This is why I'm totally moving away from using non-native plants except food plants. I do still use some that aren't locally native but.... I'm putting waaaaay more time into hunting down locally native plants.
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Old 05-29-2010, 05:29 PM   #3
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Default Noah's Garden

I read Tallamy's book earlier in the week and did love it. I found myself wishing he had written more. Great pictures and, what there was of print, simply riveting.

Years ago in reading I had a similar reaction to a book. With Sara Stein's Noah's Garden I was awakened to the need to plant only natives and reduce the mowed area. Unfortunately, I had already planted a number of trees here that weren't native. Since then, I've tried to mend my ways, and each year the mowing time is shortened. Now I have it down to a somewhat narrow swath through the back yard where it does open up into a clearing but then progresses to an even narrower path as far as the wild part of the property, which is currently impassable with multiflora rose, honeysuckle, and buckthorn.

The only native that appears to be fighting back and competing back there is Viburnam Dentatum (arrowwood) As I clear I give the section back to the Viburnums. I've noticed some red twig dogwood back there too, and today after clearing out a couple of large patches of M R, I noticed a germinated acorn with tiny leaves that had been struggling for continued existence in the then dense shade. I gave it a bit of water and it was sitting in dappled sunshine when I left!
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Old 05-29-2010, 09:04 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Equilibrium View Post
This is why I'm totally moving away from using non-native plants except food plants. I do still use some that aren't locally native but.... I'm putting waaaaay more time into hunting down locally native plants.
Yes, I am fine with my vegetable garden and may want to add a dwarf apple tree or two (maybe in pots), but other than that I want it all native.
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Old 05-29-2010, 09:07 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by jack396 View Post
I read Tallamy's book earlier in the week and did love it. I found myself wishing he had written more. Great pictures and, what there was of print, simply riveting.

Years ago in reading I had a similar reaction to a book. With Sara Stein's Noah's Garden I was awakened to the need to plant only natives and reduce the mowed area. Unfortunately, I had already planted a number of trees here that weren't native. Since then, I've tried to mend my ways, and each year the mowing time is shortened. Now I have it down to a somewhat narrow swath through the back yard where it does open up into a clearing but then progresses to an even narrower path as far as the wild part of the property, which is currently impassable with multiflora rose, honeysuckle, and buckthorn.

The only native that appears to be fighting back and competing back there is Viburnam Dentatum (arrowwood) As I clear I give the section back to the Viburnums. I've noticed some red twig dogwood back there too, and today after clearing out a couple of large patches of M R, I noticed a germinated acorn with tiny leaves that had been struggling for continued existence in the then dense shade. I gave it a bit of water and it was sitting in dappled sunshine when I left!
I should look for his book. I never read Noah's Garden, but did buy and read Planting Noah's Garden. I lent it to a friend, then I moved away. I never got it back.

Finding the oak seedling and other natives coming back must be such a thrill after the terrible battle with the MF rose, Japanese honeysuckle, and buckthorn. Have fun pampering your natives and watching them take back the area.
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Old 05-29-2010, 09:09 PM   #6
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It's interesting to watch what happens when you remove dense invasive growth. A lot of potential plant inhabitants suddenly have the opportunity they've been waiting for. I get a lot of jewelweed in the spring, but that opens up as summer progresses, so that other plants can assert themselves.
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Old 05-29-2010, 09:26 PM   #7
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I should look for his book. I never read Noah's Garden, but did buy and read Planting Noah's Garden. I lent it to a friend, then I moved away. I never got it back.

Finding the oak seedling and other natives coming back must be such a thrill after the terrible battle with the MF rose, Japanese honeysuckle, and buckthorn. Have fun pampering your natives and watching them take back the area.
Noah's Garden by Sara Stein remains my favorite gardening book. She, now deceased, was passionate about exclusively native landscape gardening. In addition to her knowledge, she was a wonderful writer who could turn a phrase with the best of them. The book's a treasure for anyone interested in the relationship between plants and animals.
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Old 05-31-2010, 01:51 AM   #8
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Apple trees might not do so well in pots but what the heck... go for it!!! I'd try it if I had a big enough pot just to say I'd tried it. You know what does do pretty good in a pot? Guavas, figs, and pomegranates but you'd need to haul the guava inside the end of summer. jack396> if you haven't read Aldo Leopold's 'A Sand County Almanac' it'd probably be right up your alley. Another two you'd probably like would be Buchman's 'The Forgotten Pollinators' and Nardi's 'Life in the Soil'.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/AS...e-gardeners-20
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Last edited by Cirsium; 10-02-2011 at 12:27 AM.
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Old 06-20-2010, 08:08 PM   #9
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Apple trees might not do so well in pots but what the heck... go for it!!! I'd try it if I had a big enough pot just to say I'd tried it. You know what does do pretty good in a pot? Guavas, figs, and pomegranates but you'd need to haul the guava inside the end of summer. jack396> if you haven't read Aldo Leopold's 'A Sand County Almanac' it'd probably be right up your alley. Another two you'd probably like would be Buchman's 'The Forgotten Pollinators' and Nardi's 'Life in the Soil'.
Just saw these book recommendation for the first time. This post slid right by me. I'll check both books out Equil - Thanks!
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Old 06-20-2010, 10:53 PM   #10
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I've read enough of your posts to know you care. Leopold's book is going to leave an indelible print on your soul.
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