Without a doubt, as a native seed seller, I welcome Nature’s Best Hope written by Douglas W. Tallamy because it educates about native plants and species. However, this book is best because it touches deep into a human’s heart in hopes of saving a generation and its nature.
When I was reading this book one evening after a hard day of work in my seed shop I realized that not only was I reading an entertaining book but I was also reading a world-changing masterpiece. One cannot stop being moved by the passion Professor Tallamy has in educating people on the importance and impacts of planting native plants.
Professor Tallamy devoted the first few chapters to the history of conservation and the dreams orchestrating everything behind the scenes. He went on to point out the limitations in the dreams and plans made, shown by the failures of the plans over the years. Then the author pinpointed the key reason for failure which was the lack of practical measures. The rest of the book covers the practical measures for ecological conservation in yards and lawns. Among all the measures, the general idea is to restore native plants to individual property, which Professor Tallamy calls the “Homegrown National Park”.
Coincidentally, the chapter that touches me the most in the book is Homegrown National Park when he says: “By restoring the plant and animal communities that belong where you are, you will develop an intimate connection with each community, like that sense of parental responsibility deeply experienced by the monarch-loving father of my friend. We can never truly own nature, but a sense of ownership creates a strong stewardship ethic. Something the land we occupy desperately needs.”
Our own Homegrown National Park started with our seed business years ago, when we trial-planted our native and non-native seeds without knowing the difference. Later in the summer, we noticed a large difference in the presence of the bee population on the native anise hyssop and purple coneflowers we planted. Not only was the overall bee population higher for native flowers, but the diversity of bee species was greater in numbers. Because of our new love for bees and other beneficial pollinators visiting our garden, we quickly set our business goal upon native seeds.
Based on personal experience as a native seed seller, I can come to an agreement with Professor Tallamy and his book that the lack of education about native plants is quite a large issue. Frankly, as vegetable seeds fly out of the shelves during our busy seasons, native seeds sit in our refrigerators with no one wanting to buy nor plant these beneficial and keystone species.
We didn’t know how to deal with the old and unwanted native seeds until we came to our senses that native plants have survived in their lands for thousands of years and they could live as long as they are given a chance. So we scattered the native seeds into the open fields near our shop. Nevertheless, our passion for native seeds has grown as our native garden grows. More and more wildlife have visited our garden, including sweat bees, monarch butterflies, and goldfinches.
From the book, I learned this practical advice Professor Tallamy’s gave: anyone with a lawn or balcony can join the Homegrown National Park. Start small and start immediately. You may plant milkweed or goldenrod in a pot on your balcony, the wearied migrating monarch butterflies will benefit.
Moreover, what the author really cares about are not plants and insects, but people, namely, our sons and daughters. As he concludes the chapter: “To me, one of the biggest benefits of Homegrown National Park is providing our future earth stewards with the convenient option of entering the natural world 365 days of the year right at home. The simple, undramatic, and commonplace encounters with the plants and animals in your yards will convey the sense of responsibility we all must have toward protecting and nurturing them. In short, Homegrown National Park will teach us, and our children, to value the natural world rather than destroy it.”
To many, Professor Tallamy is a true father, a father to the family of the Homegrown National Park, and a father to guard “the little things that run the world (insects)”. In a divided society today, wise parental guides are desperately needed.
This book like the spring rain satisfies the thirsty soils and ignites the hope of a coming harvest.