April 20, 2011

Books for Earth Day

I've been invited by Joene of Joene's Garden and by Marguerite of Canoe Corner to participate in an Earth Day meme sponsored by The Sage Butterfly.

As part of this Earth Day observation, I also asked other bloggers to participate and you can read another at Prairie Rose's Garden.

Everyone will be posting about three books that inspired some sort of action or awareness of the environment.  Here are three books I read that have stayed with me and made me think about the plants and animals in the world I live in:

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan.
It's not a screed against fast food or meat and it didn't make me a vegetarian.  It's a clear, well written explanation of where our food comes from.  That's all.  But what an eye opener!  Who knew we have so many carbon atoms from corn (Zea mays) racing around in our bodies?  The section on a sustainable farming enterprise was really interesting and can still apply to our public agricultural policy.

This is the book that gave us his famous recipe:  
Eat Food.  Mostly Plants.  Not Too Much.

(If I get to pick more than three books, I'd add all of Michael Pollan's books, including The Botany of Desire and Second Nature, both incredibly informative about how plants work, and how we use them in the landscapes around us.)

Noah's Garden by Sara Stein.
Although I don't have the acreage, pond, and natural setting the author had, I have followed her approach to rehabbing my own suburban environment in a recently built new subdivision.  My lawn is being converted to plantings, I have installed over 50 native trees and shrubs and I'm inviting nature back into the sterile landscape.  The author is no "natives only" fanatic and neither am I.  Her compromises with pests and limitations are the same I am making, but her inspiration to "let the wild back" into our suburban yards was compelling to me, and continues to guide what I plant and why I plant.

Gathering Moss by Robin Kimmerer.
An absolute gem of a book that focuses on observation of the most minute natural details, in this case mosses.  You'd think this would be a snooze -- moss? really?-- but it is lyrically written, incredibly informative about a miraculous plant I knew nothing about, and full of wonder.  There is a disturbing discussion of the definition of life: mosses are not always living tissue, but can be revivified.  Not from a dormant state, mind you, but from a dead state.  It gets tricky in so many ways.

There are some chilling chapters about the lengths we go to in eradicating nature, and some hysterical chapters on what wealth can buy if you want to recreate nature in all its details on a massive budget. 

Check out all the other blogs that are participating for Earth Day and see what books have inspired garden bloggers.


  1. Those look like interesting books. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Great list- I just found Noah's Garden in my library system and put a request on it!
    : ) Meg

  3. You have selected some very interesting books. Gathering Moss, in particular, seems extremely interesting and enlightening. I look forward to reading it. Thank you for participating in the Earth Day Reading Project and Happy Earth Day!

  4. I haven't read Polan's books, but have followed various interviews of his and watched a (PBS?) special that focused Polan. He does raise "food for thought."

    I was not aware of Noah's Garden but it certainly sounds interesting, as does Gathering Moss. I love moss and encourage it to grow. It's better than having grass, it takes little care, it's free ... and beautiful.

    You've opened my eyes to some new reading options. Thanks.

  5. Great choices, Laurrie; they all sound intriguing. This was the hardest part of preparing a post for Earth Day for me--I haven't read many books on environmental issues; thanks for giving us some good recommendations. I have spent a lot of time gathering moss, though...metaphorically, that is:)

  6. Thanks everyone, and Happy Earth Day. I hope you spend it outside today, wherever you are.

  7. Love all books by MP. I have not read the other two. On the list but not til next fall. Too much to do in the garden right now. Happy Earth Day.

  8. Great list. I haven't added any new books to my repertoire for a few years, I'll have to check these out.

  9. Laurrie, I'm adding Gathering Moss to my 'must read' list. The other day I was photographing various mosses growing on our stone wall and marveling at where they must have come from and how they manage to thrive without any help from me. Happy Earth Day!

  10. "Eat Food. Mostly Plants. Not Too Much."

    That hits the nail on the head!

  11. All: I hope you get to read some of these books, they've been important to me!

    Gail: you have to love M. Pollan for his ability to simplify.

  12. Laurrie,

    Are you ripping out the lawn completely? I am not planting any grass and am interested in seeing how someone in the Northeast does with this. Everything I read is California-oriented. I will check out Noah's Garden and see if I can apply Stein's information to where I live, but if YOU are getting rid of the lawn, be sure to photograph and post like crazy. I follow you anyway, but this particular subject would make me a Blog Stalker.

  13. Laurrie so glad you participated. I've put the Gathering Moss book on my wishlist. A fascinating plant that I should know more about.

  14. Wendy, no, we are keeping a lot of lawn still, but carving more and more gardens out of it. We won't go completely turf free, especially not in front, and especially as long as my husband lives here : )

    I am impressed that you will not be putting any grass in at all!

    Marguerite, Thanks for inviting me! I think you will enjoy the book on mosses.


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