Our Favorite Books

Brian Capon (2022). Botany for Gardeners: An Introduction to the Science of Plants; Fourth Edition.  

What happens inside a seed after it is planted? How are plants structured? How do plants reproduce? Answers to these and other questions about the complex world of plants can be found in this book by Brian Capon. It features photographs and illustrations that help clarify concepts, the latest scientific advances, changes related to nomenclature and taxonomy, and much more. From plant anatomy to basic genetics, this book explains the science of plants in plain and easy to understand language.  –GL

Uli Lorimer (2022). The Northeast Native Plant Primer; 235 Plants for an Earth-Friendly Garden.

A valuable guide to choosing native plants for Northeast gardens. Lorimer describes 235 native plants divided into seven categories: trees; shrubs; vines; wildflowers; ferns; grasses, sedges, and rushes; and annuals. His well-written descriptions of each species are accompanied by high-quality color photos. Important considerations--such as native habitat, plant size, preferred light and moisture requirements, and wildlife value--are part of the descriptions. The book is a must-have for anyone thinking of starting a new garden or adding native plants to an existing garden.GL

Suzanne Simard (2021). Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest. Part personal memoir, part scientific journey written for the layman, this New York Times bestseller tells the story of Simard’s coming of age as a forest scientist in a male-dominated profession and her ground-breaking findings about trees and forests. Step by step, she reveals her discoveries about how trees interact with each other and with vast underground mycorrhizal networks, using these networks to the advantage of both tree and fungus. She talks about how trees thrive by creating community, a heresy in the traditional view of forest as an every-plant-for-itself world. This book will forever change your view of forests. To get a small taste of what she has to share, watch her 18-minute Ted talk from 2016. CW

Dave Goulson (2021). Silent Earth: Averting the Insect Apocalypse. A compelling case why we should be very worried about the rapid loss of insects worldwide, and what we can do about it. Goulson is a well-respected British entomologist who has been immersed in this issue for twenty years and possesses an easy, engaging writing style. The book is divided into five parts: why insects are important, evidence of their decline, the causes of decline, a frightening chapter that describes what the world could look like in 60 years if we don’t mend our ways, and what we can do. Sprinkled throughout are one-page descriptions of particular insect species, well chosen to help us appreciate the extraordinary richness and wonder of life on Earth. An important and persuasive call to action. CW

Douglas W. Tallamy (2021). The Nature of Oaks: the Rich Ecology of our Most Essential Native Trees. Tallamy’s most recent book is a delightful, month-by-month examination of the natural history of oaks, our most prolific plant when it comes to supporting complex food webs above and below ground. Learn the life history of the acorn weevil, and how when the larva burrows out, it leaves behind a home in move-in condition for a colony of tiny Temnothorax ants. Learn the theories of why dead leaves often cling to the lower branches of oaks in winter, and how mastodons and giant ground sloths may have played a role! And so it goes, with a new story of the fascinating web of life that oaks support on every page. CW

Kim Eierman (2020). The Pollinator Victory Garden

Referencing the Victory Gardens of World War I that provided a reliable food source and empowered civilians to do their part for the war effort, this volume offers guidelines to ease the current threats facing native pollinators. With easy-to-read charts, plant lists, and a pollinator Victory Garden checklist, this is a guide to creating your own patch of diverse habitat to help support the pollinators of the world. Not only will getting outside and working the land help all the creatures with whom we share the planet, but it will also make a difference in how we feel about our own place in it. GH


 Judith Schartz (2020). The Reindeer Chronicles

This volume is a resource of eco-restoration pioneers, methods, and dreams. Through a series of interviews and stories, Schartz tells stories of global eco-activists working to restore Earth's environmental health. This feel-good book embraces how small groups of people working with a can-do attitude can accomplish large outcomes and shows that in taking responsibility for our actions, we can work on solutions to save our planet and ourselves. GH

Douglas W. Tallamy (2020). Nature's Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard. 

As development and habitat destruction continue, there is increased pressure on wildlife, resulting in the decline of many species. Tallamy notes that there are important and simple steps each of us can take to reverse these alarming trends: everyone with access to a piece of land can make a contribution to wildlife restoration and biodiversity by simply choosing native plants; collectively our changes can make a big impact. His suggestions are practical, effective, and easy to implement. By acting on Tallamy’s recommendations, everyone can make a difference. -GL

Tony Dove and Ginger Woolridge (2018).  Essential Native Trees and Shrubs for the Eastern United States: The Guide to Creating a Sustainable Landscape. 

A valuable guide for gardeners at all skill levels interested in creating sustainable, beautiful landscapes. Key features are descriptions of a large number of native plants and advice for selecting plants based on adaptability, aesthetic value, and overall performance. Part 1 categorizes native plants by salt, drought, shade, and wind tolerance, bark quality, showy flowers, fall color, exceptional winter interest, etc. Part 2 describes plant characteristics, including form, size, color, texture, soil, light requirements, and wildlife value. The descriptions are supplemented with color photographs, graphs, and helpful practical tips for selecting plants. Part 3 lists native species that may be prone to insect damage or may have invasive properties. GL

Mark Richardson and Dan Jaffe (2018). Native plants for New England Gardens.

The authors share their expertise creating low-maintenance gardens that tolerate drought, resist disease, and support biodiversity using New England native plants. This guide lists 100 native perennials, trees, shrubs ferns, grasses, and vines that can thrive in harsh climates. It provides practical information, such as recommendations for sunny/shady and wet/dry growing conditions. GL


Rick Darke and Douglas W. Tallamy (2014). The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden.

The authors show and explain garden design "layers" that benefit wildlife without sacrificing aesthetics. “Layers” include: groundcovers, perennials, shrubs, understory trees, and canopy trees. Each layer is important ecologically. The book includes many examples with colorful photographs and describes ecological functions of plants featured in the book. GL

Douglas W. Tallamy (2009). Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants.

Tallamy sounds the alarm on the decline of many bird species due to increased urbanization and loss of habitat, including through widespread use of non-native plants in suburban landscapes. Our native insects cannot eat non-native plants. Thus, when native plants disappear, the insects disappear, eliminating essential food for birds and other animals. Everyone with a patch of land can make a contribution toward reversing this problem by planting native species in their gardens. GL


Donald J. Leopold (2005). Native Plants of the Northeast: A Guide for Gardening & Conservation. 

Leopold is an expert in horticulture, botany, forestry, and ecology. No other single volume on native plants has as comprehensive horticultural coverage as Native Plants of the Northeast: A Guide for Gardening and Conservation. Nearly 700 species of native trees, shrubs, vines, ferns, grasses, and wildflowers from the northeastern United States and eastern Canada are included. Each plant description includes information about cultivation and propagation, ranges, and hardiness. An appendix recommends plants for difficult situations, and describes ways to attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and other wildlife. GL


William Cullina (2002). Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines: A Guide to Using, Growing, and Propagating North American Plants

This book provides important information on how to select and cultivate North American woody plants, including their taxonomy, geographic ranges, light and soil needs. It also provides information about propagation, pruning, and disease. The author describes the value of each species for attracting wildlife and highlights the threat of invasive species. With over 200 color photographs, the book is a valuable reference for home gardeners interested in creating beautiful landscapes using native North American plants. Other W. Cullina books: Native Ferns, Moss, and Grasses (2008) and Understanding Perennials (2009). GL