Book Review: The Humane Gardener

I checked out this book at the library on whim, and I’m glad I did! For the past few years I have taught a 6 week community course at the University of Kentucky on ‘Living Landscapes’- which is an ecological approach to gardening. “The Humane Gardener: Nurturing a backyard habitat for wildlife” sums up many of the things I teach into one big real-life picture.

The book, by Nancy Lawson, was published in 2017. It only took me a few short nights to read it.

The book has six chapters and covers topics like native plants, letting nature guide your garden, gardening for pollinators and birds, our relationship with wildlife and how are gardens are a meeting ground, and the life cycle of nature relating to our garden.

Throughout the book are also 6 interviews with ecological gardeners who have turned their property into a ‘living landscape’. It is interesting to see how their garden transformed from its original purchased state. One lady in Florida even found a threatened native lily growing on her property after allowing her garden to become more natural.

There are nice color photos on nearly every set of pages as examples of the topic discussed. In the back of the book is a list of online learning resources and a native plant list, to continue your endeavor on creating an ecological garden.

One really nice point in the book is, “Keeping honeybees to save pollinators or to save bees,” notes Hatfield, “is very similar to keeping chickens to save birds.” There are over 4000 native bee species in North America. Honeybees aren’t native here, they were brought from Europe. Native bees are much much more efficient at pollinating and we really need to focus on efforts to help them.

Native bees are solitary (besides bumblebees, which may live in very small colonies). Native bees don’t live in hives, don’t make honey, and you can’t order a kit to raise them. what they’re good at is pollinating. Only the bumblebee can pollinate a tomato plant so well. The bee buzzes at the frequency of C to release the pollen from the flower, which efficiently pollinates it!

Some are so small you may not even know it’s a bee. They’re gentle and rarely sting unless they’re about to be smushed. 70% nest underground. All those lawn spraying chemicals shortens their life or makes them too ill to reproduce. The other 30% live in cavities in twigs and logs. Without this natural habitat, we need to create our gardens with them in mind.

Purchase ‘The Humane Gardener’ by Nancy Lawson

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