In my effort to simplify our gardening, I've ended up interested in native plants because they are tough, built for our climate, and many come back each year. I recently read a few books on the subject and thought I'd review them together.
Easy Care Native Plants by Patricia A. Taylor, 325 pages
This book starts out with an interesting history of gardening in the United States and discusses why we have so many non native plants in our gardens. It continues with discussions of the benefits and issues related to native gardening, showcases a few native gardens, and then proceeds to a wonderful guide to 500+ native plants. Taylor's writing is good and often funny. The book is well organized and very thorough and I'm considering adding it to my personal collection.
Great Natives for Tough Places, edited by Niall Dunne, 119 pages
This is a slim little book that is more of an overview of gardening with native plants than a comprehensive guide. It covers some difficult gardening situations, such as areas with low moisture or deep shade, and has some sample gardens for a few different situations. The section that profiles about 120 selected plants, trees, and shrubs is beautifully done but quite selective. Still, a nice little book for someone who is just getting interested in gardening with native plants.
The Midwestern Native Garden by Charlotte Adelman and Bernard L. Schwartz, 268 pages
Of the three books, this one is the only one specific to native plant gardening in the Midwest and so I was the most interested in it from the start. However, the organization is nonintuitive and frustrating. The subtitle reads "native alternatives to nonnative flowers and plants" and this is how the book is organized. First it is organized by season, then alphabetically by nonnative plant. Each nonnative plant is described and then native alternatives are offered. This means that one native may be referenced at several different points in the book but it is hard to find the primary reference with the most information. I found myself searching using the index rather than just browsing because the layout was so confusing. I suppose this could work well for someone who has been gardening with nonnatives for a long time and is looking to replace them with native plants. It's a shame the organization is so odd because the information itself is quite good and includes great information about different species of birds and butterflies that are attracted to different plants.