Reviews for Wildscape : trilling chipmunks, beckoning blooms, salty butterflies, and other sensory wonders of nature

Publishers Weekly
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“Exploring in your own backyard can open up your imagination, and in the process, your humanity,” suggests habitat consultant Lawson (The Humane Gardener) in this pleasant paean to the natural world. Encouraging readers to develop a greater appreciation for local wildlife, she delves into the ways that organisms perceive and interact with their environments. Lawson uses her suburban Maryland garden as a jumping-off point and describes the animals and plants with whom she shares her property, including male butterflies that use pheromones to “advertise their virility” and bees drawn to the scent of wild bergamot flowers, which contain a compound that inhibits parasites. She examines the intricate relationships between plants and animals, as when she notes that tree crickets craft “DIY megaphones” out of leaves to amplify their calls and that “about seven thousand plant species from Alaska to Patagonia” depend on hummingbirds for spreading their pollen. Lawson succeeds in highlighting the wondrous abilities of plants and animals, though her focus on “local” wildlife will be most relevant to those who live in ecosystems similar to her Maryland environs. Additionally, beautiful photographs illustrating the animals’ abilities nicely complement her explanations. The result is a blissful appreciation of nature. Photos. (Mar.)

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Naturalist and habitat consultant Lawson (The Humane Gardener, 2017) returns with another thoughtful book about developing a deeper appreciation for our backyards and outdoor surroundings. The idea that gardens are usually designed to fit human senses, mostly vision, is gently challenged as Lawson investigates the ecological needs and lives of the denizens of her Maryland garden. As she discusses the scentscape, soundscape, tastescape, touchscape, and sightscape and how they affect the myriad lives in her yard, she also writes reflectively of how the senses drive behavior and interactions. Where Lawson really shines is in elucidating how much humans miss in the use of the senses that are less important to us or are obscured by our mechanized approach to life (scent and sound) or by our more "civilized" approach to communing with the natural world (taste and touch). Lawson's intimate study of caterpillars, slugs, snakes, beetles, and other smaller members of her garden community leads to a deeper understanding of not only their lives but also the rich interconnectedness within even a small ecosystem. Beautifully illustrated with close-up photographs, this is a book to savor and reread.