Book offers a guide to native plant gardening

Butterflies are a welcome addition to a garden. (Courtesy of Adventure Publications)

Pollinators are important to a natural habitat.

George Miller knows this.

It’s the impetus behind his latest book, “Native Plant Gardening for Birds, Bees & Butterflies: Southwest.”

“There are native plants that we can have in our yard,” says the Albuquerque resident. “A lot of the information is new to a lot of people who are trying to create a sustainable habitat for providing food, water and shelter for pollinators and birds.”

Miller says the presence of birds, bees, and butterflies suggests a healthy, Earth-friendly place.

With some work, New Mexicans can turn a yard into the perfect habitat that attracts them and helps them thrive.

“I try to cover the ABC’s of native plant gardening for readers,” Miller says. “It was important to cover all the bases in the book.”

Miller is also a nature photographer and botanist and says the guide covers not only New Mexico, but Arizona, Nevada, Oklahoma, west Texas and Utah.

The book begins with an in-depth introduction to native pollinators and birds.

A “field guide” section features more than 100 native plants that are widely available; are easy to care for; and provide great benefit to birds, bees and butterflies.

The species are organized by level of sunlight needed and then by plant type.

Each species includes full-color photographs and information about hardiness zones, what they are most likely to attract, soil requirements, light levels, and Miller’s notes on many of the species.

Miller also decided to include blooming charts and tips on attracting specific species.

Mexican golden poppy is a host for butterflies and moths. (Courtesy of Adventure Publications)

“It felt like a good time to increase the awareness of using native plants and creating a habitat that supports an urban location. For so long the emphasis was on domestic honeybees. We need to pay attention to all pollinators because each one is so important.”

One plant that attracts plenty of pollinators is milkweed – though the pollinators have to be bumblebee-sized.

“A lot of these plants are already in our backyard,” he says. “Growing tomatoes is also a great way to attract pollinators. Learning about native plants is definitely a journey that will help our future.”

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