Midwestern gardeners who aim to create native landscapes that provide important habitat to birds and other wildlife have a valuable new resource: “The Midwestern Native Garden, Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants, an illustrated Guide,” by Charlotte Adelman and Bernard L. Schwartz (Ohio University Press). In writing the book, the authors considered several of the major challenges faced by gardeners who want to grow natives. First, which plants are not native to a region? Second, what are alternative plants that are just as stunning and similarly capable of thriving in a garden that might otherwise be crowded with nonnative ornamentals.
Naturally predisposed to thrive in their regional landscape, native plants can be grown without pesticides that pollute waterways and air. What’s more, they play an important role in an ecosystem, providing food and breeding sites for birds, butterflies, and other wildlife.
What sets this book apart from similar titles lining gardener’s bookshelves is the authors’ comprehensive selection of colorful plants native to the Midwest that hold their own against popular ornamentals. Each featured plant includes garden notes about the birds and butterflies it may attract.
The benefits of choosing native plants are two-fold: Drifts of wildflowers and grasses bring beauty to the garden, while also providing butterflies and birds with places to forage, rest, and nest. This book could make a great holiday gift for a Midwestern gardener. As skies darken and the landscape grows winter gray, it will provide a punch of color and a promise of spring splendor to come.
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