The Living Landscape offers an1The home landscape offers many opportunities and if you want to have all the traditional virtues of a garden while attracting wildlife, education on how to do it. You can have beauty, a play area, and edible plants while fostering biodiversity and creating a sustainable landscape. Authors Rick Darke and Douglas W. Tallamy combine their considerable talents to create a book with strategies and ideas that will help you make and maintain a living landscape.

Using the example of a deciduous forest, the authors start by discussing the patterns and processes of a natural, unmanaged area by describing the literal vertical and horizontal layers of the forest and then the cultural and temporal layers. Next, the interaction between plants and wildlife is explored with a focus on the importance of long-evolved interrelationships. A discussion of the potential value of home landscapes to the environment including water conservation, nutrient cycling, and support of wildlife leads to suggestions for improving the ability to see and appreciate the biodiversity that surrounds us.

The bulk of the book I devoted to applying the principles developed in the first part of the book to the home garden. Each of the vegetative layers described in the first part of the book are considered with specific examples given. Plant choices are described and shown in in-site. The photographs capture the potential beauty of even the simplest plant and make a good case for its inclusion in the garden. A variety of environments are discussed from forested areas to meadows and wetland all with multiple plants suggestions. Lists of plants with their benefits for wildlife are provided for the major areas of the US.

The Living Landscape shows that you can have a garden that meets your needs and wants while also benefiting the natural environment and provides suggestions for brining that about. The focus is on the mid-Atlantic states and although the principles are equally valid for all areas the examples are valid for and meaningful to a much smaller one. It is not a cook-book for a diverse and sustainable garden but does provide a lot of ideas and strategies for creating one.

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By Karen