I'm reading Doug Tallamy's book Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants, a persuasive argument for replacing exotic plants with natives, and monocultures (turf lawns) with diversity. Look for a book review in a later blog post. In the meantime, I'm pleased to post a piece on the subject by Mitch Leachman, Executive Director of the St. Louis Audubon Society, which has a program, Bring Conservation Home, that helps homeowners turn their suburban lawns from monocultures into havens for native plants, and thus for native birds.
This piece was originally published in Tale Feathers, the Audubon Society's monthly e-newsletter, and is re-published with permission.
From the Director
Each of us makes decisions every day that have an impact on our environment. Actually, at the core of ALL of our activities is the natural world. In some way, it all comes from or goes back to that—the air we breathe, the water we drink, the raw materials for our homes and cars and technology. The measures we take to minimize those impacts are myriad from recycling to buying organic to CFL or LED bulbs to hybrid vehicles. All of which are important but few of which hold our attention long, and none of which are alive (save for our food—once).
That is my point. Only habitat re-creation is vibrant, exciting and literally full of life. Using native plants to re-build the food web of life in your own landscape draws insects, birds, butterflies and more into your life, daily. I still provide suet and black oil sunflower seed with feeders. Yet, my attention is drawn more each season to the native habitat I’ve been creating. This winter, I watched White-throated Sparrows snap the seed heads from the Cliff Goldenrod planted last spring while Cardinals took some of the late-season fruit off the American Beautyberry shrubs. I’m anxious for the Black Chokeberry and Ninebark shrubs that I planted last fall to mature and provide similar opportunities.
My space is small—some 7,600 square feet—including the house, garage and driveway. I have some turf and retain some amount of ornamental plants, but the yew hedge across the front of the house may be the only one with a long-term future. Plans are already in the making for a new native bed at the front of the house—a triangle of maybe 100 square feet. Its days of daffodils, tulips and a non-native creeping phlox are numbered. Come April, it will be planted with a variety of coneflowers—butterfly and bee nectar in the summer and finch food in the fall!
No matter where or what size your space, you can start the same journey. How much and how quickly you re-store the habitat is up to you, but we stand ready to help you. Visit our website and online application for Bring Conservation Home at www.stlouisaudubon.org/BCH. You’ll be glad you did!
For more information on the Bring Conservation Home program, visit the link above, or view the video of Mitch's Green Speaker Series talk.