Douglas Tallamy is a great man – who is sharing his greatness with all of us in his books that explain how plants feed the natural world – and us! The Nature of Oaks – The Rich Ecology of Our Most Essential Native Trees -is the third of his three books about trees and and the creatures that live on them.
In the Nature of Oaks he describes the many oaks that exist and the many creatures that depend on those oaks. His story begins with October. When he stopped haying on his property lots of invasive plants took over. He set to get rid of those plants and was successful. In the spring he found lots of seedling white oaks and beeches on his land. A mystery. The mystery was solved when he saw that blue jays were bringing – and planting – acorns and beechnuts all over his cleared land.
He continues, month by month beginning with October and ending with September, he takes the reader on a written journey through an action-packed year in the life of an oak. Each month focuses on one aspect of the interaction between the trees and the creatures. There are great photos to describe and explain these creatures. The month of July is laid out with photos of caterpillars in their life stages, and bugs like the katydid family. Moths and butterflies too.
The month of August explains the importance that oaks contribute to watershed management, and goes on to “below ground carbon sequestration” which is valuable in the fight against climate change.
The very final section of the book is Tallamy’s gift of teaching – How to Plant an Oak. This is an important note. We have to remember that creatures may dig up and eat a lot of the acorns. Tallamy plants his in pots, and gives good instructions.
Bringing Nature Home (Timber Press 2009) was the first book I read by Tallamy. It opened my eyes to the difference between native plants, native wildlife, native insects and how they all interact. Appendix I gives information about each Region with the different types of trees, vines, streamside plants (buttonbush!), ground covers, herbaceous perennials (dry and wet sites) ferns and more. This book is so useful to me.
Nature’s Best Hope – A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard “…..even our greenest cities have missed the most critical aspect of nature-conscious urban design; plant choice matters!” Non-native plants in a city may be very pretty but a non-native landscape means that ‘during bird breeding season the city will be silent. How can we consider something sustainable if it doesn’t sustain life?”
To close all this information Tallamy adds a Frequently Asked Questions section from “Won’t climate change make restoring natives to our landscape nearly impossible?” to the topic “Does my yard have to be 100% native to join Homegrown National Park?” Happily the answer is “Absolutely not! There is room for compromise.” And more.
I am a great fan of Doug Tallamy and I am working to make my small garden a Homegrown National Park.