The Bottom Line
There's a lot of talk about gardening with natives, but much of it would have us emptying our gardens of the plants that attracted us to gardening in the first place. What’s special about the BBG's "Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants" is that it gives us attractive, acceptable alternatives to plants we already love, rather than trying to reinvent out gardens. Right off the bat, they answer the most common questions about invasives and natives (just what is a native?) and providing the "Habitat and Range" helps you pinpoint the plants that will work for your area.
- Great for identifying and replacing possible invasive plants in your area.
Photos, attributes and growing tips for suggested plant.
Focuses on ornamental plants, not just common natives.
Includes trees, shrubs, vines, herbaceous perennials and grasses.
- Invasive list is only by Latin name, not common name or state.
Plants not listed in table of contents. (There is an index.)
No book can keep up with the ever-expanding list of invasive plants.
- Excellent Q&A on both what makes a plant an invasive species and what constitutes a native.
The choice of native alternatives focuses on plants you can actually find in a nursery and would want to have in your garden.
Provides photos and "Attributes at a Glance", highlighting the good and the bad, for each plant.
Good list of invasive plants by area. I just wish it were cross-indexed by common name or state.
Nice appendix of books and websites, for further reading.
- Published 2007, by Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Inc., 239 pages.
Guide Review - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants - Book Review
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden All-Region Guides are a series of wonderfully helpful books on just about every gardening subject imaginable. The books tend to be succinct and packed with information and "Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants" is no exception. Written by avid gardener and garden writer C. Colston Burrell, it describes the plants in gardeners terms, not like a botanist extolling the virtues of belly plants (natives so small you have to lie on your belly to see them.) More than that, it gives us alternatives to popular, but invasive plants that we would actually enjoy seeing in our gardens. Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii) is becoming a pest? No problem, we can substitute Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) or how about Wild Lilac (Ceonothus thyrsiflorus)?
The book is an easy reference. The invasive plants are grouped alphabetically, by type, with 1 or more native suggestions following. They tell you the range of the native plants, their hardiness, their good and bad points and some tips for growing them. And there are full color photos of some of their most prominent features.
I also like the brief beginning of the book, where Burrell answers questions like: how do plants become invasive, how can you spot a possible invasive plant and can a cultivar be considered a native?
I'm very fond of the All-Region Guides series. They aren’t exhaustive treatises on their subjects, but they are jam backed with the kind of useful info that gets you up to speed quickly. If you’ve been confused or conflicted about including more native plants in your gardens and landscaping, "Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants" is an excellent place to get some answers and some wonderful suggestions.