Carolyn Summers’ new book, Designing Gardens with Flora of the American East, is a treasure trove of excellent research and useful information… some of it rather surprising. I’ll give a quick list of reasons why this book might belong in your native plant library:
1. Guidelines for gardeners on when ,where and how to use non-indigenous species without causing harm to local indigenous populations.
2. Species-based stories recounting the intricate relationships between plants, plant-eating insects, and insect-eating birds.
3. How to keep your biodiversity garden from actually inadvertently becoming a biodiversity sink!
If you are looking for a book filled with large-format, gorgeous color photos of native plant combinations, this isn’t that. But as much as I do enjoy those books, I found this well-researched and very thoughtful book quite fresh and inspiring. She goes a little further in detail than most “gardening for wildlife” books, explaining, for example, what exactly the Norway maple does after it escapes and takes over a wooded area, and the impact that has on the local ecosystem. This is a must-read for anyone who wants to get beyond just scratching the surface with their understanding of native plants and our vital role as gardeners in a world with rapidly shrinking habitat areas.