Times have certainly changed since I first started gardening. When I began, we planted what we did because we liked it, with no regard as to whether it was a native plant and certainly no concern as to how it could impact the environment. My background has always been with butterfly gardening and early on I wanted my gardens to be filled with anything that would attract butterflies; native or not. Now, it seems that this method can actually be detrimental to not only the butterflies but the bees as well. Being a horticulture manager at a zoo has certainly opened my eyes on many levels to the importance of always using native plants.
Being a Rhode Island native I am no stranger to the New England Wild Flower Society, who released the book in this review. If you are a New England resident, this book will be a great help in planning your landscaping, especially if you want to go the native route. In this book you will learn about one hundred native perennials, trees, shrubs, ferns, grasses and vines. Though this is not a butterfly garden specific book, they do note which of these plants may attract our local butterflies. Being a butterfly guy I really appreciated this.
Each entry features a full color picture of some aspect of the plant, usually what will help most in identification. In the text are important facts such as where the plant can be found in the wild and a pretty detailed description of the plant itself. Other factors include blooming times where applicable and what other plants work well with the plant in question. In some entries, in addition to beneficial insects that may be attracted to a particular plant, pest insects are listed as well.
The book clocks in at 220 pages and is the perfect size to take with you to your local nursery when buying plants for your native gardens. The photographs by Dan Jaffe are fantastic, concentrating on the most interesting parts of the plants. Though this book is far from complete (and to be honest, what book on this subject could be), it is a great introduction to gardening with native plants from New England. To order this book just click on the image below. This book will make a great stocking stuffer for the gardener in your life.