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Book Review: A Native Plants Reader

Book Jacket.120

Brooklyn Botanic Garden Guides for a Greener Planet

Edited by Niall Dunne
Published by Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 2012

Reviewed by Bruce Patterson

A Native Plants Reader is an impressive collection of native plant essays by distinguished authors, educators, conservationists, and horticulturalists. Their personal stories working with native plants in the Northeast weave together a wide range of experiences and knowledge providing a fabric for us to consider native plants from new perspectives. Themes of enjoyment of native plants, threats from human activities and climate change, conservation, and restoration firmly tie the essays together.

The essays are grouped into four sections. In Defining and Collecting, Niall Dunne and Sarah Reichard discuss what we mean by native plants with respect to geographic scope and a more rapid climate change. James L. Reveal tells tales of early botanical exploration in the Northeast. Susan K. Pell and Steven Glenn describe NYC flora mapping and the impact of invasives and climate change. Mariellé Anzelone and Wendy Hollender lament over the vanishing native plants in NYC due to habitat loss and invasive species.

In Native Plants in Nature, we feel the joys of seed collecting by Heather Liljengren; foraging by Russ Cohen; and native community restoration by Myla Aronson. Bernd Heinrich discusses the importance of sustainable forestry for biodiversity and ecological processes. Niall Dunne lists forest disease organism and invasive species threats. Because many species cannot move at the rate of climate change, Janet Marinelli asks if conservationists need to reconsider assisted movement.

In Native Plants in Gardens, Judith Larner Lowry encourages the use of local plants in designing a restoration garden. Douglas W. Tallamy writes of his experience planting a yard for wildlife, bringing biodiversity home. William Cullina finds plant propagation a tool for understanding plants and for building friendships with both plants and people. With more than half of nonnative species in the wild naturalized from garden plants, Sara Reichard requests gardeners be more careful with plant selection. C. Colston Burrell suggests native alternatives for garden invaders.

In Native Plants in Public, Mariellé Anzelone makes the case for better local nature education to rebuild connections among plants, animals, and people. Uli Lorimer describes the redesign of the Brooklyn Botanical Garden’s native flora garden for display, education, and conservation.

These essays will surely inspire you and have you looking for more books and publications by these authors.

More information about the book and how to order it can be found at:

About the Author

Bruce Patterson studied field botany at New England Wildflower Society (NEWFS) after a career in software development. He learned plant propagation and growing working as in intern and employee in the NEWFS native plant nursery, studying at Arnold Arboretum, and working in his backyard nursery. He currently contributes to Go Botany, serves on the NEWFS Sanctuary Committee, and works with endangered plant monitoring and invasive plant control as a PCV volunteer in MA and ME.