Native Plants of the Midwest: A Comprehensive Guide to the Best 500 Species for the Garden by Alan BranhagenNative Plants of the Midwest: A Comprehensive Guide to the Best 500 Species for the Garden by Alan Branhagen

Native Plants of the Midwest: A Comprehensive Guide to the Best 500 Species for the Garden

byAlan Branhagen

Hardcover | November 16, 2016

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Native Plants of the Midwest, by regional plant expert Alan Branhagan, features the best native plants in the heartland and offers clear and concise guidance on how to use them in the garden. Plant profiles for more than 500 species of trees, shrubs, vines, perennials, ground covers, bulbs, and annuals contain the common and botanical names, growing information, tips on using the plant in a landscape, and advice on related plants. You’ll learn how to select the right plant and how to design with native plants. Helpful lists of plants for specific purposes are shared throughout. This comprehensive book is for native plant enthusiasts and home gardeners in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, northern Arkansas, and eastern Kansas.
Alan Branhagen is the Director of Horticulture for Powell Gardens. Before that he was Deputy Director of Resource Development for the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District. He received his Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from Iowa State University and a Master of Landscape Architecture from Louisiana State University with an emp...
Title:Native Plants of the Midwest: A Comprehensive Guide to the Best 500 Species for the GardenFormat:HardcoverDimensions:440 pages, 10.5 × 8 × 1.13 inPublished:November 16, 2016Publisher:Timber PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1604695935

ISBN - 13:9781604695939


Read from the Book

Introduction This is a book about the plants indigenous or native to the heartland of North America. No place else on earth has such an extreme continental climate, yet it is a place filled with plants of every size and in every hue. This book aims to inspire readers to plant native plants while learning how and where to grow them successfully. There is no perfect plant so understanding the strengths and limitations of each species is a critical component. I also aim to explain why it is important to utilize native plants in a landscape wherever possible. Humans have manipulated the landscapes of the Midwest since arriving in the region. The first English-speaking settlers described a forest that stretched from the Appalachians to the Mississippi. The prairies were celebrated as a sea of grass, so vast it stretched to the horizon in many places. Much of the forest was portrayed as open woodland, with a parklike appearance of scrub and gnarly trees interspersed with grass. We like to think of these early descriptions as depicting a pristine place, but we know that the bison, elk, and other creatures along with Native Americans and their use of fire created that landscape. When settlers arrived, the region was already changing as the great glacial ice had melted not that long ago (in the big scheme of things). Northern forest trees were retreating northward and southern species advancing as the climate changed. Grasslands had periodically advanced eastward and northward through periods of heat and drought, the habitat they required maintained by natural and man-made fires that burned through entire landscapes. Plants filled every niche, segregated by their adaptations to all the various conditions from wet to dry, muck to sand, sun to shade, and hot to cool microclimates. Today the Midwest is one of the most human-manipulated landscapes: the seas of prairies are now a vast expanse of farmland while the forest has been fragmented into smaller tracts. Once open woodlands and savannas are now dense forests. The region’s great herbivores, bison and elk, no longer roam, while wildfires no longer burn. Some native animals like white-tailed deer and some imported plants like bush honeysuckles and reed canary grass have gone awry, usurping indigenous plants in remnant wildlands. With the forces that shaped the original landscape now gone, the remaining natural areas must be managed almost like gardens to protect their inhabitants. The indigenous plants are important because they sustain all of life in this landscape. Could you live solely off native plants? Many species, mainly insects, through millennia of adaptations and evolution, are viscerally linked to a specific plant. Two butterflies are a good example of these links: zebra swallowtail can only survive where its host, the pawpaw, grows, the Karner blue where the wild lupine grows. We know a healthy environment for humans includes a diversity of life around us. Aldo Leopold’s saying still holds true: “The first part of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts.” By including native plants in our landscape, we are helping to save this diversity, especially important in the manipulated and fragmented Midwest. The typical suburban landscape includes a home, expansive (and rarely used) lawn, foundation plantings, plus token shade and evergreen trees with various adornments of ornamental plantings. In many cases, the shade trees are native but most of the smaller trees, shrubs, and groundcovers including turf are not. In 1976 Hal Bruce wrote: “Americans simply do not utilize their wildflower resources. Yet there is still time to begin.” After almost 40 years since his book was published, we have begun, but we can do even better.  

Editorial Reviews

“Alan has masterfully infused the spirit of the Midwest into a practical book on native plants for gardeners and naturalists alike.” —Richard Hawke, Plant Evaluation Manager and Associate Scientist at Chicago Botanic Garden “Whether you are a native plant aficionado or simply looking to add regionally appropriate plants to your landscape, this book will become a valued addition to your library.” —Edward S. Lyon, director of Reiman Gardens, Iowa State University “As more people are incorporating more natives in their landscapes for their own pleasure, pollinators, and birds, this book will be used by novice and experienced gardeners alike.” —Booklist “The sheer number of beautiful photographs in this volume provide an excellent way for readers to browse and become inspired by the beauty of native Midwest plants. . . . Gardeners wishing to learn more about native Midwest plants from an experienced professional will appreciate the blending of growing recommendations along with the author’s personal experiences using each plant.” —Library Journal “Save time, money, and perhaps the most valuable natural resource—water—by going native in your green space. Native Plants of the Midwest features the best native plants in the heartland and offers clear and concise guidance on how to use them in the garden. . . . This comprehensive book is perfect for both plant enthusiasts and home gardeners looking to reap the benefits of a native garden.” —Michigan Gardener “Well designed and richly illustrated, Branhagen’s book will be of value to landscapers, restoration ecologists, and home gardeners interested in creating regionally appropriate landscapes.” —Choice  “Includes stunning images that showcase the leafy and colorful variations in nature and is ideal for those looking to update their landscape.” —Green Bay Press-Gazette “Well-researched but accessible plant bible.” —The Columbus Dispatch “Beautifully illustrated and thoughtfully written guide to the Midwest’s best native plants for home gardens. . . . an excellent guide to help us choose plants that will offer the home gardener the most success.” —The Gateway Gardener’s?