The merits of cultivating native plants in terms of fostering wildlife, supporting pollination, and nurturing the soil have been pretty well established at this point. It helps that picking native plants like milkweed for the garden can attract the splendid monarch butterfly, but the benefits of adding native species to your lawn and garden are far-reaching.

It begs the question, then, where does one begin the process of planting native? Alan Branhagen’s new book, The Midwest Plant Primer: 225 Plants for an Earth-Friendly Garden, answers that question. The book begins with an examination of the kinds of plant habitats commonly found in the Midwest, and it then moves on to advice for designing a garden based on styles like woodland gardens, water gardens, and edible gardens, among others.

From there, the book becomes an exceptionally practical guide to native species. The plants are divided by categories: trees, perennials and vines, shrubs, and groundcovers. Each plant has a color photograph, the Latin name, the kinds of wildlife it might attract, shade and sun requirements, plus a paragraph with additional background and context.

In the back section you’ll also find hardiness zone charts. The book is an exceptionally handy resource for gardeners both aspiring and seasoned, serving as both a guide and inspiration. It’s also a great book for anyone interested in learning more about native species and identifying them. The design, photographs, and general layout make it a good coffee table read as well.

Alan Branhagen, 256 pages, nonfi ction, Timber Press, softcover, $24.95

More Missouri Books

A Journey to My New World, Alfred Fenske, 243 pages, autobiography, Kindle Direct Publishing, softcover, $15.99. This autobiography by a Nevada, Missouri, resident takes the reader on the journey his family took in 1939 when Germany declared war on Poland, from their stay in Germany during WWll to their arrival in the United States.

A Tribute to the Fire Service of Missouri, Chief Bill Westhoff , 138 pages, nonfiction, Walsworth Publishing Company, hardcover, $35. The book conveys the history of the Missouri Fire Service from 2012 to 2018 through a compilation of the Firefighters Association newsletter, History Corner.

Commonwealth of Compromise: Civil War Commemoration in Missouri, Amy Laurel Fluker, 288 pages, nonfiction, University of Missouri Press, hardcover, $35. The author examines the collaborative efforts made by the Civil War generation to reach reconciliation of their collective memories.

Flora’s Caterpillar, A. D. Anderson, 27 pages, children’s literature, Publisher Blueraven Creative, LLC/ Amazon, softcover, $9.99. This St. Louis author tea ches children about the lifecycle of a monarch butterfly, from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly, in a fun way.

Forest Park: A Walk Through History, Carolyn Mueller, 48 pages, nonfiction, Reedy Press, soft cover, $15. This guide book takes you on a walking tour through the 1,300 acres of the 140-year-old Forest Park in St. Louis. Follow seven unique tours with maps, photographs, and points of interest.

Growing Up in St. Louis, Jim Merkel, 224 pages, nonfiction, Reedy Press, softcover, $20.95. More than one hundred St. Louisans, from Julia Davis born in 1891 to Milo Marston born in 2008, offers remembrances of St. Louis.

Melissa’s Fate, Diane Yates, 254 pages, fiction, Forget Me Not Romances, an imprint of Winged Publications, $9.87. This Fayette author delivers a page-turner romance involving mixed messages, a custody battle, secrets, jealousy, and love lost and found.

Please Love Me Like I Love You, Kip Ullrich Fechner, 32 pages, nonfi ction, Pet Kindness Press (self-published), softcover, $9.95. The Ballwin author, with his sister Jan Dillion creating watercolor illustrations, teaches toddlers how to show kindness toward pets.

St. Louis: Out and About in the Gateway City, Raymond Bial, 127 pages, nonfiction, Arcadia Publishing, softcover, $21.99. This is a pictorial of everyday life in the city’s early years.

The Potato Masher Murder: Death at the Hands of a Jealous Husband, Gary Sosniecki, 211 pages, nonfiction (true crime). The Kent State University Press, softcover, $24.95. From Lebanon, Missouri, the author is a 2014 Missouri Press Association Hall of Fame recipient, who delves into a dark family secret, the murder of his great-grandmother at the hands of her husband.

The War For Missouri: 1861-1862, Joseph W. McCoskrie, 208 pages, nonfiction, The History Press, softcover, $21.99. This in-depth book examines how divided Missouri was during the Civil War.