The resources for helping people to learn about regional native plants—and how to use them—have never been better. I have filled my social media feeds (Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook) with native plant friends, conservation organizations, and businesses that share gorgeous and insightful posts on plants and related topics. More people than ever are creating web content (blogs, websites, videos) with plant profiles, articles, and other resources. And books continue to be published, including one that just came out this week.
Beginner-level resources are especially welcome for the many newbies learning about native plants and their benefit to our local ecosystems. If you’ve been looking for something for yourself or for a friend that you are encouraging, check out this new book entitled “The Southeast Native Plant Primer: 225 Plants for an Earth-Friendly Garden.”
This is a new book by accomplished North Carolina authors Larry Mellichamp and Paula Gross plus the wonderful photographer Will Stuart. Larry and Will published a book in 2014 (read my review here) that is similar but bigger (460 plants are covered). This new book is specifically geared towards beginners, so the organization of it is simplified plus enhanced for today’s issues (like home pesticide use and invasive plants).
In general, the older book has larger sections on any topic that is present in both. The downsizing of details in this one surely makes reading it less intimidating to newbies, but it doesn’t lose anything important. This book has new resources at the end, including sections on Recommended Reading, Mail Order nurseries, and a list of Southeastern Public Gardens with Significant Native Plant Collections (including 6 in Georgia). The book also includes several lists (caterpillar host plants, pollinator garden suggestions across 3 seasons, plants that deer might avoid, plants with fruit for birds) that help guide your choices.
When it comes to the reduced number of plants in the new book, some categories are not included: bog plants, aquatic plants, and a dedicated conifer section are in the earlier book but not the new one. In addition, not as many canopy trees are included in the tree section. New gardeners might be more focused on perennials and shrubs so those sections are robust. There is a section at the end that covers the value of existing native trees that gardeners might have, including oaks, which they should be encouraged to recognize and treasure for their value.
|Helianthus angustifolius, one of the few featured plants with 4 icons:|
birds, bees, butterflies, and caterpillars are supported by this perennial
Shade and sun perennials are broken out separately to let you search more efficiently for the conditions you have. Each plant profile has useful icons for birds, caterpillars, butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds to help you recognize important characteristics for an Earth-friendly garden. The profiles include 14 ferns, 12 grasses and grass-like plants—a great term for gardeners who probably get frustrated with nerds insisting things are sedges instead of grasses even though they look like them—39 woodland wildflowers, 71 sun perennials, 12 vines, 46 shrubs, and 31 trees.
|Solidago caesia is a wonderful shade-tolerant goldenrod; |
its plant profile has 3 icons: bees, butterflies and caterpillars
If you’re just starting or you know of someone that needs a helpful resource, this is a book to consider. As we continue to stay home more than usual, planning for fall garden changes starts now!
[Timber Press has a similar book out for the Midwest region, so consider your friends there as well.]
|Aronia arbutifolia earns 4 icons: birds, bees, butterflies and |
caterpillars; it is a worthy garden shrub!