When I was first asked by Joene, of joenes garden, to participate in an invitation-only blog meme started by The Sage Butterfly to “List at least three books that inspired you to perform any sustainable living act or inspired you to live green, and then tell us why they inspired you” in order to commemorate Earth Day 2011, I have to admit I looked up from my desk and saw the shelves and shelves of gardening books in my office and thought it would be an easy choice. Well, to my surprise, it wasn’t.
After spending some time thinking about how green I am (I’m on the road but have lots of room for improvement), I realized that my journey towards living a more sustainable life really started when my kids were born and was slowly nurtured as I nurtured them.
The Giving Tree
The first book I’d like to highlight is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. In a way, it represents all the books my sons and I read together over the years. It also represents my realization, one I imagine many new parents experience, that life was no longer just about me. My first steps towards living a more sustainable life where out of concern for the well-being of my children, not the larger environment.
I also chose The Giving Tree because, even though it’s a little book with simple line drawings, it was one of my sons’ favorites. Who wouldn’t love a book that begins with Once there was a tree…and she loved a little boy. My sons found thier own giving trees in all their special places – our garden, their grandparents garden, the park, etc.
The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds
I selected The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds because it represents the beginnings of my realization that what I do in my own garden impacts local wildlife. My mother-in-law gave this book, along with a bird feeder, to my boys and started us all on a journey of appreciating birds.
Rather than show the cover image (which is just plain green), I wanted to show you a representative page from inside the book. Notice the two blue circles, one on the photo of the Great Blue Heron and the other on the Little Blue Heron? We put sticky dots on the photos of any birds my sons saw. For years, we took this book with us everywhere — on vacation, to the zoo, when we visited family — and always looked for new birds to ‘check off’ in the book. To entice more birds into our garden, we hung bird feeders, put out bird baths and started looking at our garden as a place that birds would want to come and live in.
Bringing Nature Home
The final book I selected is Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife With Native Plants by Douglas Tallamy. Like many other native plant advocates, I can trace my epiphany back to the first time I read this book.
Before I read it, I never really thought about the plants in my garden nourishing so many different kinds of insects. Sure, I chose plants based on their deer-resistance or whether they offered something for the birds we loved to look at but I never imagined their leaves had chemical signatures that were integral to the survival of so many different insects.
After reading Bringing Nature Home, I realized that viewing plants through a native lens, with an eye towards the diversity of wildlife they can sustain, could really make a major impact on the environment. It’s a lens I now using when choosing plants for my own garden, as well as for my landscape design clients.
I invited two of my favorite bloggers to join me in the Earth Day Reading Project. Please click-through the links below and check out the books that inspired them.
♦ Marguerite of Canoe Corner in Prince Edward Island, Canada
♦ Scott of Blue Heron Landscapes in Granby, CT