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    Many people approach gardening as a constant struggle with the outside world. They're perpetually at war with nature, investing in weed killers and fighting off deer and birds, all in an effort to preserve their garden as a pristine, uncorrupted patch of earth. Marlene A. Condon proposes a radically different method: What if, instead of battling the natural world, we invited it into our backyards? The result is the nature-friendly garden, which attracts and meets the needs of common creatures, rabbits, toads, insects, squirrels, owls, and so on, while maintaining a thriving, varied landscape of flowers and plants. And as this thought-provoking guide demonstrates, coexisting with nature doesn't mean turning your yard into a bramble-infested wilderness. The sustainable, low-impact garden described in these pages is a model of environmental balance, fostering species diversity while keeping wildlife damage and invasive plant growth at an acceptable minimum. Best of all, it offers a privileged look at the workings of nature, and the book's advice on observing wildlife is sure to open up a new and fascinating world for even the most experienced gardener.

    You can order an autographed/inscribed copy directly from me. Please e-mail me for information at MARLENECONDON@aol.com

    Book Review #1:
    The growing market for books on gardening indicates that many people recognize the emotional and health benefits of this popular pastime. Condon (Landscaping for Wildlife) presents an ecofriendly approach to landscaping, addressing ways to encourage insects, animals, birds, and other wildlife to establish homes within any garden area. When we cease fighting with nature (which the author insists is an exhausting and endless endeavor anyway), we can enjoy living in harmony with many creatures and watch the "show" of nature unfolding in our own backyard haven. In fact, if the natural process is allowed to take over-a main tenet of landscape gardening-many problems should solve themselves owing to a more balanced environment. No matter what shape your landscape is presently in, the author introduces ways to make it more nature-friendly, and many of her suggestions are both easy and inexpensive. Although nature-friendly gardening shares some concepts with organic gardening, they are separate subject areas and should be represented as such in the library. Easy to understand and well illustrated, this book would be useful for public libraries in any region, including those in urban areas. Library Journal

    Book Review #2:
    "Native wildlife" and "suburban gardens" seem to be mutually exclusive, but not according to Condon, who cheerfully invites insects, reptiles, birds, and mammals to her half-acre yard. Such detente can even extend to such legendary pests as Japanese beetles and rapacious rabbits when the right combination of conditions are created. Whereas predominantly grass-centric gardens may only encourage visits from a few select birds and butterflies, Condon envisions a world in which lawns are reduced to mere buffer zones surrounding vistas of diverse plantings of shrubs, trees, and flowers that provide lush habitats for numerous species. And Mother Nature isn't the only beneficiary; humans can experience emotional, spiritual, and physical improvements from such an ecumenical approach. From providing water and shelter for wildlife, to mulching and composting plant life, Condon covers all the bases in a thoughtful and passionate treatise on the benefits of gardening--and living--in harmony with nature. American Library Associtation

    Book Review #3:
    Marlene Condon's understanding of the intricacies of the natural world shines from every page of this wonderfully informative book. Condon makes it clear, in succinct, inviting prose, that she has garnered and is willing to share a great deal of personal knowledge about the critters that flock (and creep, crawl, hop and wriggle) to her paradisical backyard "garden" ... a term which itself can too often mean simply a sterilized plot for producing vegetables, but in Condon's hands reveals its earlier, edenic meaning as a place where man and nature can live together peacefully. Among the many positive aspects of this beautifully produced book (glossy pages, plentiful color photos, quality binding) I will mention just three: a plethora of delightful natural anecdotes and wildlife factoids that will surprise even the most jaded natural history reader; a crucial chapter on the necessity of accepting--and even celebrating--the role of predation in the natural cycle of life; and thorough appendices of nonprofit organizations, governmental agencies, and educational facilities that can perpetuate a reader's awakening desire to integrate wildlife into their gardening experience. Through it all this book is thickly graced by the author's professional wildlife photography, itself worth the modest price of admission. If the Romantics were correct in identifying the crucial task of the awakening mind as perceiving the remote in the intimate, The Nature-Friendly Garden must be embraced as an important step toward peeling the scales of artificiality from our eyes and opening ourselves--and our gardens--to the myriad wonders that await us. Slugs, bugs and all. Bill Funk