Grow Native — Bringing Natural Beauty to Your Garden by Lynn M. Steiner jumped off the shelf at me when I walked by it in the library recently. I thought you might like to know about it, too.
At a little over 200 pages it isn’t a huge book, but it is packed with information. Five chapters cover the what and why of native plants, selecting and planting them, how to create an effective landscape using native plants, and caring for what you’ve planted. The last half of the book (Chapter 5) is approximately 100 profiles of good choices for the home landscape. Steiner’s selections are not specific to the Southeast, but most of them work well in the Carolina Piedmont.
Plenty of sidebars and charts let you know things like what to plant instead of vinca (how about creeping phlox or Allegheny spurge?), or for special uses such as attracting bees or birds (consider columbine, liatris, or dozens of others she lists). Photos affirm the beauty of a native landscape and provide some inspiration.
Steiner’s stance on a number of issues made me either smile or think, Wait, what? She is cautious with nativars, and against insecticides (expected), but put a lot of emphasis on soil preparation and mulch (a little surprising). There are some good tips for dealing with various gardening challenges, such as deer and diseases, and many of the plant profiles provide uncommon and helpful tidbits gleaned from her many years of gardening.
While it might not be the only book on native plants, I do think it’s a good one, particularly for someone new to the idea. It would make a good gift book for the right person. Hearing another enthusiast’s view of the issues involved with native plant gardening as well as her experience with our favorite species made it quite an enjoyable read for me.
I just noticed that Amazon is selling it for $3.29 at the moment. I’m not sure how long that will last, but you can’t beat it! Don’t forget to sign up for Amazon Smile if you haven’t already. Then the North Carolina Native Plant Society will get a donation for each purchase you make at no extra cost to you.