There’s got to be a stretch of land, perhaps in a backyard near you, where native Louisiana plants are encouraged, if not adored. In such a setting, ornamental gardens are shelved in favor of native bayou flowers, trees and even bugs.

Such is the hope of author Kelby Ouchley, whose book Bayou-Diversity: Nature and People in the Louisiana Bayou Country, published by LSU Press, ruminates on garden life many of us in the Capital City take for granted—or even loathe.

Consider, for example, wasps: “It’s important to remember that native wasps are a spoke in the wheel of our ecosystems. A few are pollinators,” Ouchley writes.

And lubber grasshoppers: “I’ve always heard them called graveyard grasshoppers.”

And blue jays: “Friday is the day that all blue jays spend with the devil telling him of the bad things we did earlier in the week.”

Ouchley’s book is a delightful collection of short essays about Louisiana’s oft-unnoticed natural wonders, and how they are tightly woven into who we are. The essays were originally created by Ouchley for a biweekly program of the same name that aired on KEDM-FM, Monroe’s public radio station.

Sure to elicit a few chuckles, conjure memories and, ultimately, light the way for future naturalists, Ouchley’s book is a must-read if you love Louisiana gardens. Doubtless you will learn a thing or two.

If you’ve got a Chinese tallow tree waving its heart-shaped leaves in your yard, he writes, “Go to the garage, get the axe, and chop down that Chinese tallow.”

Did you know that possums have 50 teeth? That Civil War soldiers harvested honey when they weren’t at war? Ouchley will tell you all about it, and more.

Take a lazy afternoon and delve into Louisiana’s wild side, which Ouchley so carefully uncovers in Bayou-Diversity, beckoning all who inhabit it to protect it.