Author Talk with Reeser Manley and Marjorie Peronto

Join Reeser Manley and Marjorie Peronto at the Main Library on Saturday, June 10 at 2:00 p.m. for a talk on their new book, The Life in Your Garden. This book is a must-read call to action for gardeners concerned about Earth’s biodiversity crisis.  Horticulturists Reeser Manley and Marjorie Peronto describe how to create gardens that will help stem the tide of species extinctions among insects, birds, amphibians, and other endangered creatures.  The authors recommend ecologically-functional plants – native trees and shrubs, herbaceous perennials, and annuals – that will nurture a wide variety of garden wildlife.  Additionally, they present numerous examples of insect-garden interactions to demonstrate that a garden can and should be a stable, self-regulated ecosystem in which insect herbivores are held in check by their predators.

The Life in Your Garden shows why:

  • converting lawn to garden increases Earth’s biodiversity;
  • keeping insect herbivores under control is not the primarily the gardener’s job; it is the work of the predators (primarily other insects and birds) that an ecologically functional garden supports;
  • every garden should include an insectary of plantings that nurture pollinators and other insects;
  • locally native understory trees and shrubs form the bones of a garden that nourishes wildlife;
  • if you want butterflies in your garden, provide host plants for caterpillars. There is no such thing as an “adults only” butterfly garden;

and much more.

The book suggests a major rethinking of North American yards and gardens. When you notice that most of the leaves on your oak tree are riddled with holes, remember that the caterpillars that created those holes are what bird food looks like. When you spot a colony of aphids on the stem of a favorite plant, leave them for the ladybird beetles and woodpeckers. Enjoy the biological diversity in your garden.

About the Authors

Reeser Manley has gardened in South Carolina, Washington state (while earning a Ph.D. in Horticultural Science), Massachusetts, and, for the last 15 years, in Maine. From 2007 through 2015, he wrote about the garden in a weekly column for the Bangor Daily News. He taught courses in horticulture at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and the University of Maine, Orono. In 2013 he retired from teaching chemistry and physics at a small high school on the coast of Maine to devote his time to gardening and garden writing.

Marjorie Peronto, a professor for the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, has been teaching courses in fruit and vegetable gardening, ecological landscaping, and pruning for 26 years. She is a resource among her colleagues on native and invasive plants of the Northeast. Marjorie oversees Downeast Maine’s Master Gardener Volunteers Program, training individuals to conduct community outreach projects that promote sustainable gardening and food security. She has developed nationally recognized school gardening courses for teachers.

Copies of The Life in Your Garden will be available to purchase at a reception and signing following the talk. Author Talks are sponsored by the Friends of the South Portland Public Library. For more information, call 767-7660 x 2.



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