There are two types of gardeners, professional landscaper and Johnson County resident Judy Nauseef claims in her book, “Gardening with Native Plants in the Upper Midwest”: those who are eager to take on intensive, landscape redesign, and those of us who “simply want to plant.”
Whether you are out in the yard with a measuring stick and graph paper or walking out of Peck’s with an armful of random, cool-looking plants, Nauseef’s short book is filled with tips on how to create landscapes that are sustainable
and visually appealing.
The trick? Use native plants.
This doesn’t mean Nauseef’s book is just about how to transform your side yard into a native prairie — though there is a great chapter on this topic. She provides tips and examples on how to incorporate even just a few native plants into our existing landscapes, arguing these plants can lessen garden maintenance while bringing much-needed ecological diversity.
She also encourages gardeners — especially us random planters —
to really get to know
our yards before we
go throwing things in willy-nilly.
One particularly important question: Where does the water go? “I know that this does not sound like a glamorous or an exciting place to start designing the most beautiful native garden in the neighborhood,” Nauseef writes in her friendly style. “However, this kind of observation often leads to a wonderfully creative solution.”
Nauseef’s beautiful color photos of her various landscape projects, and detailed descriptions of the plants, are perhaps the most useful parts of the book. However, basic gardeners may appreciate having a field guide or other reference materials handy when consulting Nauseef’s text, for added clarification.