Growing native plants even in a small urban garden can benefit wildlife and significantly contribute to biodiversity. Author, Charlotte de la Bedoyere, in her book, Starting Out with Native Plants, shows readers how to join the many gardeners who are engaging in this endeavor. Using the term wild plants instead of native, she explains how to find, plant, and cultivate these plants so as to support the insects, birds, and other animals that are dependent upon them.
The author begins with directions for buying or collecting seed, preparing the garden soil, sowing the seed, and coping with pests and disease. She then describes four meadows that can be used as models even in a small backyard only a few square yards available for a garden. There are many kinds of meadows but the author focuses on grassland meadows, cornfield meadows, woodland meadows, and ponds, bogs, and wetland meadows. For each kind of meadow she describes how to replace a garden plot with a meadow including choosing the plants, establishing the meadow, and maintaining it. The largest section of the book is devoted to descriptions of native plants with a large photograph of each as well as botanical and common name, height, bloom time, and type. These descriptions are complemented by a complete list of all the native species in Britain with details on type, height, flowering times, and habitats.
The book is written for a British readership but has appeal for Americans in its basic concepts and guidelines for creating a garden of native plants. Even the more specialized sections of the book on plants are informative and most Americans will recognize a large number of the plants. Some plants appear to be native to both North America and Britain while others are British natives that were carried to North American over the years. For readers interested in the history of gardens and plants, the book offers a treat.