The Natural Habitat Garden

The Natural Habitat Garden
by Ken Druse with Margaret Roach
Timber Press, 2004

Ken Druse's back to the land movement, begun with nature-inspired designs in "The Natural Garden" in 1989, really takes root in this volume of native plantings found in gardens across America.

Druse, author of the country's natural gardening movement as well as an accomplished photographer, teams up with Newsday gardening editor Margaret Roach for this survey of 35 public and private gardens that rely heavily on native plants.

"What we found, sometimes in very unlikely spots, was that a grass-roots movement -- well, a grass-roots movement whose lawn has been dug up and replaced with natives -- was quietly sweeping across the United States, one garden at a time," Druse explains.
He describes this book as "first public meeting space" for like-minded gardeners committed to saving the Earth by preserving the integrity, stability and beauty of its biotic communities.

"If even a fraction of America's 38-million gardeners turned a quarter of their landscape into rewilded spot that recalls, at least roughly, its presettlement state, there would be a measurable impact. If every gardener gave just one tenth of an acre back, the instant net gain would be 3.8 million acres of native plants."

Grouped into four botanical habitats -- Grasslands, Drylands, Wetlands, Woodlands -- the splendidly photographed and carefully documented gardens are presented as an inspiration to homeowners and gardeners looking to make a transition to more natural surroundings. The pictures catch the eye and invite it to linger while the text explains how to re-create local habitats and provide new havens for birds, butterflies, and other wildlife.

The gardens profiled range prairie grasslands in Wisconsin, buffalo grass lawns in Texas, desert plantings in Arizona and a wet meadow in New York to wetlands in Rhode Island, a botanical garden in North Carolina and wildings in Delaware.

A Source Guide in the back of the book provides gardening tips, seed and plant sources, and contact information for native plant societies, botanical gardens and arboreta across America.

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The Natural Habitat Garden
Carnivorous Plants

As most gardeners are aware, carnivorous plants are uniquely evolved to derive much of their nourishment from insects that they lure and trap.

Some carnivorous plants, like the pitcher plants, snare their prey passively by laying a trap that victims fall into unwittingly. Others are more agressive, like the Venus flytrap, which move to capture a prey that gets too close.

"The carnivorous plants that hold the most promise for home habitat gardeners are the pitcher plants," writes Ken Druse. "Among the species to consider are pale pitcher, yellow pitcher, white trumpet, and the naturally occuring subspecies northern pitcher and southern pitcher.

"The sarracenias hybridize freely -- constantly pushing the boundaries of evolution. A collection of Sarracenia leucophyllia will soon exhibit variations in leaf color and flower as surface-sown seeds sprout and grow. This white trumpet looks delicate with its tubular leaf, flared and hooded at the top and etched with red and green veins. This plant, little-known to American horticulture despite its native status, is grown as a popular cut flower."


M. Hofferber Books 
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