Outdoors: Book highlights importance of native species in sustaining life | Sports
We had a great time at the recent Strawberry Festival in Kimmswick, selling books from Liguori Publications in our âPop Up Shopâ across from the Christmas House. We met a lot of people and made new friends, but it was the opportunity to see an old friend who still reminds me of the weekend.
There’s a good story to tell of how I found out Bill Sawyer of Hillsboro was selling his art of woodcarving and copper tooling at the festival, but that was something in the conversation with him. and his daughter about whom I am writing today.
âYou are the reason we cut our Bradford pear trees,â Claire told me after her father introduced us. Finding out that my incessant whining is having an impact has made me feel good and has given me hope. Last week I finished reading a library copy of a new book by Douglas Tallamy, the bestseller “Nature’s Best Hope.” It is a follow-up to his similar work, “Bringing Nature Home”.
Both books explore the importance of restoring native species to secure and protect the environment. With a realistic approach, plain language, and examples and analogies we can all understand, the University of Delaware professor of ecology eschews textbook jargon and encourages people to help restore the planet to a small patch of land. time.
With all the species native to our continent, how could a few imported plants disrupt an entire ecosystem? Tallamy says the number of invasive species is over 3,300, but answers the question by noting how a small tumor can affect the entire human body. Like cancer, unchecked invaders can spread quickly.
Another analogy I liked was in response to the lack of concern about the loss of individual species. Why worry about one or two missing birds? An engine, he wrote, may continue to run even if you remove a few minor parts, but it will never run at peak efficiency and eventually additional missing parts will bring it to a halt.
My favorite comparison was against those who deny the negative impact humans have on the environment. Tallamy likened it to being on a leaky boat. While some people at least try to replenish the water, others continue to pour full buckets in the boat.
His solution is to establish a local national park – not large tracts of land for someone else to care for, but individual efforts to plant native species. If each suburban yard had a 10 by 10 native garden, the restored land would provide more habitat than all of our national parks combined. These gardens would attract insects that have evolved alongside plants for millennia, providing food for the birds and other wildlife that depend on them to maintain their populations.
The National Wildlife Federation hosts a Native Plant Finder list that can be searched by zip code. Its content is provided in part by Tallamy’s research. When I entered 63019 for Crystal City, I found flower and herb suggestions including goldenrod, indigo, hibiscus, and over 200 other plants. The website also features the best trees and shrubs for attracting and restoring native caterpillars, including oaks, birches, hickories, dogwoods, blueberries, blackberries and dozens more.
The Audubon Company has a similar online resource that suggests the best plants for birds. For zip code 63019, he recommended 123 best options and almost 500 in the full list of results.
Working with neighbors to expand these new refuges amidst suburban landscapes will increase the size of the local national park. The first step is to identify and eliminate invasive species like callused pear trees, honeysuckle bushes, garlic mustard plants and others.
Our dedication to the manicured lawn as a status symbol must give way to the importance of restoring balance to our environment. Turf-type grasses can be used as bridges between gardens of native species, but Tallamy suggests lawns should look more like rugs rather than wall-to-wall carpets.
The widely used fertilizers, weedkillers and insecticides that keep your lawn looking lush work against returning our diseased ecosystem to full health. Another big negative impact is the amount of water needed to keep the grass green. Native species that have evolved to survive the summer heatwave and flower at different times of the year are better beneficiaries of the tender and loving care of a landowner.
Residents of Missouri also have the George O. White State Forest Nursery as a resource for trees and shrubs. Planning and planting information is available year round from the nursery, but tree and shrub order forms will begin to be accepted on September 1.
The garden spaces we create don’t have to be works of art – just vital enclaves for the smallest parts of our ecological network. If you want art, look for Bill Sawyer’s mallet and chisel woodcarvings and bespoke stained glass.
John Winkelman is marketing director for Liguori Publications near Barnhart, Missouri, and associate editor for Outdoor guides magazine. If you have any story ideas to share for Leader’s outdoor news page, send an email to [email protected], and you can follow John on Twitter at @ johnjwink99.