Bringing Home the Wild

A Riparian Garden in a Southwest City

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When living in a large sprawling city, one may feel disconnected and adrift. Finding ways to belong and have positive effects is challenging. In Bringing Home the Wild, botanist Juliet C. Stromberg demonstrates how ecologically guided gardening develops a sense of place, restores connections to nature, and brings joy and meaning to our lives.

This book follows a two-decade journey in ecologically guided gardening on a four-acre irrigated parcel in Phoenix, Arizona, from the perspective of a retired botanist and her science historian partner. Through humor and playful use of language, Bringing Home the Wild not only introduces the plants who are feeding them, buffering the climate, and elevating their moods but also acknowledges the animals and fungi who are pollinating the plants and recycling the waste. Some of the plants featured are indigenous to the American Southwest, while others are part of the biocultural heritage of the cityscape. This book makes the case for valuing inclusive biodiversity and for respectful interactions with all wild creatures, regardless of their historical origin.

As author and partner learn to cohabit with the plants who feed them, calm them, entertain them, and protect them from the increasing heat, their desire to live sustainably, ethically, and close to the land becomes even stronger, revealing the importance of observing, appreciating, and learning from the ecosystems of which we are a part.
“Like the very best garden memoirs, Stromberg’s book is secretly a work of philosophy. Taste the pomegranates and mesquites, smell the orange blossoms, listen to the grackles call as you read your way through this multisensory exploration of what it means to truly ‘co-create’ an urban oasis with a large cast of ecological actors.”—Emma Marris, author of Wild Souls: Freedom and Flourishing in the Non-Human World

“With its jaunty voice and compelling vision, Bringing Home the Wild demonstrates that the process of transforming an urban landscape has the power to transform lives.”—Foreward Reviews

“In this age of endless diversions and toys in a high-tech world, being engulfed in a world of towhees, cottonwoods, phainopeplas, and other denizens of the Sonoran Desert within the boundaries of the fifth largest city in the country is possible, as enthusiastically described by the author. Always on the lookout for the usual suspects and new arrivals in her riparian gardens, Julie Stromberg shares intimate, fun, educational, and humorous stories from her home in south Phoenix, demonstrating that one can create a diverse home for other critters—both plants and animals—that provide joy, aesthetics, moments of awe, and, most importantly, a sense of place.”—Wendy C. Hodgson, author of Food Plants of the Sonoran Desert

“For three decades, Julie Stromberg has been a champion of restoring riparian corridors to benefit humans and wildlife in the West. With this book, she not only reflects on her work well done but allows you to bring it into your own backyard, just as she has done. Share in the fun with one of Arizona’s great restoration ecologists!”—Gary Paul Nabhan, biocultural restoration advocate and contemplative ecologist

Bringing Home the Wild is gentle meditation on the co-creation of place by plants, animals, and people. Julie Stromberg is a treasure. This book, a love song to her rewilded yard in Phoenix, is like a walk through her garden—a portal into another way of being in the world.”—Karen Bradshaw, author of Wildlife as Property Owners

“This book delivers humor and insights to those who form personal relationships with plants and can’t help keeping a close eye on daily happenings in the garden.”—Julia Fonseca, environmental planning manager, Pima County Office of Sustainability and Conservation

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