Sunday Dinner: “A Discipline With a Deadline”


“Butterflies used to reproduce

on the native plants that grew in our yards

before the plants were bulldozed and replaced with lawn.

To have butterflies in our future,

we need to replace those lost host plants,

no if’s, and’s or but’s.

If we do not, butterfly populations

will continue to decline

with every new house that is built.”


Douglas Tallamy



“We were the product and beneficiary

of a vibrant natural world,

rather than its master.”


  Douglas W. Tallamy



“Knowledge generates interest,

and interest generates compassion.”


  Douglas W. Tallamy



“We can no longer afford

to consider air and water common property,

free to be abused by anyone

without regard to the consequences.

Instead, we should begin now

to treat them as scarce resources,

which we are no more free to contaminate

than we are free to throw garbage

into our neighbor’s yard.”


  Douglas W. Tallamy



“Our privately owned land

and the ecosystems upon it are essential

to everyone’s well-being, not just our own.

Abusing land anywhere has negative ramifications

for people everywhere.”


  Douglas W. Tallamy



“My point is this:

each of the acres we have developed for specific human goals

is an opportunity to add to Homegrown National Park.

We already are actively managing

nearly all of our privately owned lands

and much of the public spaces in the United States.

We simply need to include ecological function

in our management plans

to keep the sixth mass extinction at bay.”


  Douglas W. Tallamy



Photos by Woodland Gnome 2020


“Conservation biology . . .

[is] a discipline with a deadline.”


E. O. Wilson



To Learn More (These books should top the reading list of every serious naturalist and gardener…. Woodland Gnome)

Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens by Douglas W. Tallamy

Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard by Douglas W. Tallamy



About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

10 responses to “Sunday Dinner: “A Discipline With a Deadline”

    • Thank you, I’m always inspired by reading Tallamy. He offers a concrete, achievable plant for how each of us may participate in the restoration of the planet- at least within the borders of our own space. Take care ❤ ❤ ❤

  1. I couldn’t agree more. DT is a wonderful resource and if more people follow his advice, the world will be a much more inclusive one. Wonderful photos, too!

    • Thanks, Eliza. The first time I read Tallamy, I read with a huge chip of skepticism on my shoulder. Who wants plants with holes in their leaves??? But with each passing year, I come to appreciate him and his point of view more and more. Our local native plant enthusiasts have won my heart and transformed my garden. And now I delight in each beautiful wasp and bee, butterfly and cricket. I saw a gorgeous hummingbird moth for the first time this year a couple of days ago, blissing out on our Monarda. So sorry I didn’t get a photo of her! Take care, Eliza. I hope the storm brought you blessed rain and no damage to your trees. ❤ ❤ ❤

  2. Monica MacAdams

    Hi, my comment has nothing to do with your current post (except as always to note that your photographs are exquisite), but rather to refer-back to our exchange @ acanthus whitewater. I told you that after failing to get it to thrive in the ground, I tried it in a pot this year…and thought it looked pretty happy…even happier after I pulled-out the plumbago I stupidly planted with it. But alas, it’s made no progress since. Inasmuch as you (a master gardener) also had problems with this plant, I’m not sure it’s entirely my fault (although it usually is). Anyhow, that’s just an update, for what it’s worth…alas, I do LOVE this plant.
    Monica MacAdams

    • Thanks for the update, Monica. Variegated hybrids quite often have some weaknesses in their genetics and aren’t as long lived as the species, or even as non-variegated hybrids. In my garden, the Acanthus just fades away once our weather turns hot and humid. But then it turns up again the following year with its gorgeous leaves. Rather than placing blame on yourself, the plant, the weather or the stars, sometimes it is good to simply take a plant’s performance as a learning experience. Through trial and error we either figure out what our plants need to be happy, or we figure out they are more trouble to us than they are worth in the garden. Rather than having a dozen struggling plants, I’ve come to accept that it is better to have a collection of robust ones- even if they aren’t exactly what I’d most want to grow. Of course, we are so hot and humid here in coastal VA that there is a long list of popular perennials that just don’t perform well for us. I just finished a powerpoint presentation about 24 colorful plants that thrive in our micro-climate here in W’burg. If ever we can get back to normal life, I’ll look forward to sharing it with local groups sometime in the future. Nothing tastes sweeter than success, when it comes to tending a garden. Thank you for your kind words on the butterfly shots. Today was our local butterfly count, and I could only contribute these three hardy little guys. Take care, Monica, ❤ ❤ ❤

      • Monica MacAdams

        Thx so much for the words of wisdom..b/c I’m an amateur, I typically give-up fast on unhappy plants, but for some reason I became so obsessed with acanthus whitewater, I was determined to make it work (if not in the ground, at least in a big pot). Alas, not. My plan for next year is to abandon ship on the acanthus and try another plant I’m obsessed with, but which is only marginally suitable in my (Washington DC) climate/partial sun exposure: agapanthus. Another fool’s errand? Many thx again for your kindness in taking the time to reply…and btw, don’t know why you’re not a professional photographer in addition to an expert gardener (Martha Stewart, eat your heart out).

        • Thanks, Monica. Photography has become an avocation. I was born with my father’s artistic eye but not his skill with pen and brush, so I work with a camera instead. Before you spend much on Agapanthus, you might check out the comments on . They are expert gardeners, but say they don’t have the success they’d like with Agapanthus. They sell the bulbs, but that is a summer bulb I’ve not grown out. I don’t ever think that trying new plants is a fool’s errand, unless you count those Lotus seeds I sprouted this spring that have all made their way to the compost….. Whatever you grow, there is always something new to learn and to discover. While you may not fall in love with every plant, everything you grow leads you along the path to finding those plants you end up loving and growing well. I hope you didn’t pitch the Acanthus- They do go dormant for some part of every year. If you can spare a space for it somewhere, it will likely reappear next spring. It is a gorgeous plant with those amazing variegated leaves!

          • Monica MacAdams

            Thx again…you are so kind! I love foliage plants….thus my acanthus whitewater obsession, but my garden here in DC is so impossible (I had a small garden in Brooklyn…with no deer), and I’m getting so old…that I have learned to live with plants I don’t necessarily “love” but do well…in some cases too well (my ferns are threatening to take over the universe). I’d be tempted to send you a couple pix, but luckily for you, I am a techno-moron. OK, I’ll stop! In addition to photographer/gardener, you cd have a 3rd career as a therapist!

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