Tom, I'm sorry but you already have what the book is talking about... in abundance! "Familiarity...." and all that, eh? I do take your point though. Again, research and really, really, knowing all the options, I think, is something everyone needs to do. I do encourage you to look into the topic though. Your situation is in some ways opposite of the slide Dr. T showed of the Manhattan Isl. -- no local natural resources (all shipped in), no local waste disposal (all shipped out -- "to NJ" he said, and got a laugh.). Well yours might be an "island" of nature, but what about everywhere else?
Absolutely diversity is the key, rainbowgardener. What you're doing is exactly the sort of planting Dr. Tallamy is advocating. Natural community of native plants that provides habitat for a wide variety of insects as well as the birds and animals that feed on them, and so on up the foodweb. If you haven't read the book yet, rainbowgardener, I think you'd like it a lot.
And yes, I think it *would* be a good book club subject. The topic is something of an eye-opener if you hadn't thought about it before, and is a good reminder of why you do it if you have and are. With all the persuasive arguments that I'm not good at presenting. It is absolutely chock full of photographs of "common" insects that you WOULD see if your property wasn't
landscaped in the popular sterile manner.
What excites me... a lot... is that in the last two years, I've turned to this book time and time again after seeing a bug in MY garden with the thought "Oooh, I'm SURE I saw that bug in Bringing Nature Home
." --- and I did! They include The Virginia creeper sphinx moth (my "Stealth Fighter" moth), the shiny drop of gold Tortoise beetle, Crowned slug caterpillar, as well as a False Crocus geometer moth that I was the first to report to the Butterflies and Moth of America website for my area of NJ. There are also a number of butterflies and moths as well as pest insect photos in the book as well.
On of the more interesting study results he reported is that naturally native landscaped gardens with no pesticide use show no worse pest predation as compared to conventionally landscaped and maintained gardens. Why? Because of the influx of natural biological control: Predatory insects and birds. And I can raise my hand and say, "YES! My garden is proof of it!" (not that I did
So if you only have room for ONE tree, you should plant the oak. Otherwise, plant a diversity....
That's it. Exactly.
Another point that was made is that there is a minus-side to the horticultural industry creating named/patented cultivars of native plants to sell. They are propagated asexually, resulting in loss of genetic
diversity. So I think that while its OK to plant the "pretty" cultivars for show, whenever you can, or for the less conspicuous areas of your property, it's better to obtain the species.
Of course I have an example of one drawback to THAT which I'm running into right now.... I bought two species Ilex glabra
(Inkberry) shrubs two years ago, loaded with berries. I later learned that I. glabra
, like other Ilex's have male and female plants. Obviously both of mine were girls and they haven't fruited since. Last fall and just yesterday at a native plant sale, I tried to find male I. glabra
. I was told in the fall that the nursery didn't have it at the plant sale but would have it back at their place of business (they sell named cultivars), and yesterday, that what they had (from a different nursery) were seed-propagated species and they don't label them male/female. Also the Master Gardener there looked it up and found that I. glabra
*occasionally* have complete flowers on the same plant. Anyway, this will give me another excuse to go the Bowman's Hill native plant sale on Mothers Day weekend in search of a boy for my Inkberry girls.