When planting a garden, people often think about what will look the best in a specific place, but there’s also the factor of what plants will be the most beneficial for the local wildlife and insects.
It’s this idea of beneficial planting that drives Doug Tallamy to help inspire home gardeners to really think about what they’re putting in their yards.
Doug is a professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, where he has been teaching for 36 years. His book Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens is incredibly popular and has earned numerous awards.
His perspective on the importance of planting things in our garden that are native to our area isn’t an “all or nothing” mentality. He believes in an 80/20 rule.
“How about 80% of the plants from where you are and then 20% accent plants?”
Doug also emphasizes that woody plants are the more productive plantings, so if a gardener really wants to make a difference he or she can plant native woody plants and then play around with the herbaceous plantings.
“It does not have to be 100% native. We’re learning that some natives are a whole lot better than others.”
His point is that the plants we choose have an important impact on the ecosystem as a whole. Gardeners need to be aware of what they’re putting in their space.
“We have to stop viewing plants just as decorations. It doesn’t mean we can’t use them as decorations, but we have to at the same time consider all the ecological roles they play…It’s not native versus non-native, it’s productivity versus not.”
For more information about Doug Tallamy, visit his website.
This episode was filmed by Leon Guanzon. Art is by Matthew Gillin.