Bring Nature Home

At the beginnig of the semester, I decide to choose a book about relationship between plants and people to read and I found the Bringing nature home is an interesting and useful book since it discussed about how to decorate your backyard with plants and told us so many interesting stories or experiences about the plants and animals. Compared with other more professional books, this book is easy to read and understand. The author, Douglas W. Tallamy, displayed the ecological system and relationship between plants and animals through the whole 14 chapters. It illustrates the basic knowledge about the nature and rules that most people don’t know. I recommend not only those people who study about landscape and plants, but also most people who want to make their backyards more beautiful to read this book, you will find this book is really helpful and gives you lots of inspirations about the nature and plants. Before we learn the characteristic of each plant and arrangement of vegetation in gardens, we need to study the existence of plants and how it survives and how it contributes in the earth.

Firstly, why plants are important for our life? Why we need a backyard with plenty of flowers and shrubs instead of hard pavements or more constructions? The answer is that plants become an essential element to make our ecological system work and to provide a healthier and balanced living environment. As the Tallamy mentioned in first chapter, gardeners will be responsible for making a difference. The difference refers to the future of biodiversity for ecosystems that sustain the animals and plants. (Tallamy, p11) Actually, gardeners are more professional since they are not only creating beautiful garden and communities, but also sustaining the native plants. People are always curious about the alien ornamentals and amazed by their beauty. However, they don’t know how does those exotic plants influence the native landscape and destroy the native plants. At the same time, the alien plants will also bring damage to local insects even cause the extinction of species. The growing of any plants depends on so many factors such as the adaptation of environment, the influence on the existing wildlife habitat, invasiveness of plants and so on.

As we know, the insect and plants are close relationship since plants is the main food provider for insects. There is a helpful comparison on the book showing the difference between the leaves of alien plants and native plants. You can find that native leaves have more eating holes than that of alien leaves. Therefore, the result is that native insects are more prefer to eat the leaves of native plants than that of alien plants. Increasing number of alien plants will lead to reduction of insect population because insects have own preference for their food. (Tallamy, p15) That’s why I said the daily jobs for gardeners also contain the sustainability of native plants. They need to preserve the local landscape and wildlife while keep the beauty of plants. The food chain in ecosystem is also controlled by those gardeners.

I am impressed by one sentence on the book — plants are Earth’s lifeblood. (Tallamy, p18) Our home and communities tie with the landscape and various kind of vegetation tightly. People may ignore the benefits that plants bring to us but the fact is that all lives in Earth cannot live without plants. Plants will absorb the sun’s energy and release the oxygen to the air through photosynthesis. That’s why we said the plant is the first tropical level. (Tallamy, p18) Human’s daily breathes with oxygen and releases of carbon dioxide are both transport by plants.

Then, can we only have one plant species to sustain all life? Whether all the plants have same functions in the Earth? I think the answer is obviously no. Tallamy claimed that animal’s diversity is high in the tropics because plant diversity is high. (Tallamy, p21) Even people need to obtain different elements to sustain life such as protein and carbohydrate from different food. Wildlife also required various choices based on the soil, nutrients, leaf chemistry and so on. Except the positive relationship between the plant biodiversity and animal diversity, the plant also stimulates the animals’ evolution. This is what Scientists Charles Robert Darwin said — It is not the strongest of the species that survive, but the one most responsive to change. There is a good example to prove that plants help to shape the animals species and stimulate the evolution. The giraffes in the ancient time are not as tall as current ones. However, those trees in their living environment were so tall that those giraffes had to try their best to eat the leaves on the trees. Finally, those tall giraffes survived and inherited to next generations. Plants can not only decide the diversity of animals but also lead to the change of the animals’ appearance. Afterwards, someone may raise the question that if the plants are more essential that insects? The fact is that they are both indispensable for the earth. Animals are the second tropical level which refers to herbivores. Tallamy said in the book that 37 percent of animal species are herbivores insects. (Wiess & Berenbaum, 1988) They are functional as transforming the plant tissues to insect tissues and then become the food for other higher level species. In the ecosystem, every life on the food chain is significant. As a result, gardeners are required to create a garden with a complete and sustainable ecosystem instead of a garden with full of plants. In order to create a more diversified garden with higher level of wildlife, gardeners have to make sure the first and second tropical level are stable and adapt the environment very well. Insects may feel unfamiliar or unsuitable with the alien plants and disturb the whole operation of the ecosystem.

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