The Humane Gardener: Nurturing a Backyard Habitat for Wildlife

Princeton Architectural. Apr. 2017. 224p. photos. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781616895549. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616896171. GARDENING
OrangeReviewStarMany gardeners divide local flora and fauna into two categories: beneficials and pests. Journalist and naturalist Lawson, author of the "Humane Backyard" column for the Humane Society of the United States in Washington, DC, challenges readers to erase this distinction. She goes beyond the usual advice to avoid pesticides, encouraging gardeners to plant native plants, let native weeds grow, and welcome all wildlife even when it eats the plants. In her garden, "Only two things are unwelcome: chemicals and invasive vegetation known to supplant wildlife habitat." Lawson makes her case for suburban backyard as sanctuary with well-written prose that is never shrill or overly sanctimonious. More persuasive than practical, this book includes some tips for protecting and creating habitat for insects, birds, and other wildlife, as well as lists of books and websites that offer more information. She also includes short profiles of gardeners who have embraced the principles she espouses. This gorgeously written, well-argued title will help backyard gardeners see all creatures, from insects to elk, as visitors to be welcomed rather than pests to be removed.
VERDICT Highly recommended for gardeners at all levels in all regions.
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