Louisville Magazine

AUG 2019

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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86 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 8.19 poisons in milkweed," says Brown, a retired historian and educator with the National Park Service. "ey have these vibrant colorings that would normally make them a target for predators. Instead, the colorings serve as a warning: Because milkweed is poisonous and monarchs are ingesting it, they become poisonous. So they don't have a lot of natural predators, which is pretty darn clever." Native vegetation experts also recommend late-season blooming plants like aromatic asters for gardeners hoping to give monarchs a boost during migration. "ey have to have someplace to refuel while they make their trek to Mexico," Idlewild's Leano-Helvey says. "ey're going 2,000 miles and need pit stops." When Brown was with the Park Service, as historian at Abraham Lincoln's birthplace in Hodgenville, Kentucky, he and Mulligan lived in a home surrounded by woodlands. ey wanted to re-create that environment when they moved to Louisville in 2010, where Milligan was seeing clients as a mental-health therapist. ey found their home using Google Earth, searching for available properties at the edge of woods. "We then set about creating as natural a setting as we could," Milligan says. In addition to milkweed for the monarchs, they've planted other butterfly magnets. Certain caterpillar species have evolved to ingest the foliage of just one plant. e larval stage of the spicebush swallowtail butterfly — a beautiful dotted, kite-like creature — can eat only leaves of the spicebush plant. e zebra swallowtail (which has, you guessed it, white stripes) dines only on the leaves of pawpaw trees during its larval stage. Brown and Milligan put in pawpaw trees and spice bushes to accommodate them. e couple turned their side yard into an extension of the adjacent woods and dug up non-native plants in front, replacing them with a wide variety of species local pollinators crave. ey left some turf grass in front to comply with the look of the rest of the subdivision, but exchanged pollinator-friendly native bushes for the existing hedgerow. en they completely "de-lawned" the back, crafting rain gardens and adding bushes and a few small trees to turn it into a concentrated botanical wonder. Some unexpected plants sprouted up to join the party. "When you start getting rid of these non-native plants, all of these seeds that have been biding their time start to appear, like jewelweed," Brown says, mentioning the homeopathic cure for poison ivy. "And it has these beautiful tubular blossoms. It's orange, and it just grows everywhere." e couple is constantly on surveillance for Japanese (white) honeysuckle, one of the worst and most pervasive invasive species, as it tries to colonize their property from the adjacent woods. On the other hand, the native coral honeysuckle that has grown to regularly present a sizable wall of light-red flowers has become a favorite. "It blooms three times (a year) and the hummingbirds love them," Milligan says. "ey hover over several small flowers. Not only do we get the scouts in the spring, but we get nesting pairs in the summer and the migratory ones in the fall." Phyllis Croce and John Frey's home on Riverside Drive in Jeffersonville has become a pollinator oasis among the lawns and walkways near the Big Four pedestrian bridge. Frey, a retired restaurateur, purchased the home in 1976, and, for his first landscaping project, tore out the invasive English ivy that had claimed much of his land. Croce, a retired landscape- restoration specialist at the Metropolitan Sewer District, brought in river oats, a shade grass that produces seeds eaten by both caterpillars and birds. at was 25 years ago. Now, Croce and Frey have gone 100-percent pollinator, with both the front and back of the property turned over to a dense covering of almost exclusively native plants. Walk down the sidewalk between the Big Four and restaurants such as KingFish and Buckhead Mountain Grill and you see one home standing out amid those with small front lawns and tightly circumscribed gardens. A sea of tall flowering plants swaying in the wind surrounds the Croce and Frey house. One exception in this native-species oasis is the oakleaf hydrangea in a front corner of the property. Its range in the woods and near stream banks isn't typically described north of Tennessee, but it blossoms into a show- stopping white that convinced the couple to leave it in place. "When the oakleaf hydrangea blooms out it's like a beacon," Croce says. Everyone stops and says, 'What plant is that?' at's when I started labeling things." We do a quick inventory of the front garden, serenaded by the "cheer-cheer-cheer- up" of a robin. Croce has posted handwritten names of the plants densely packed into what was once a front yard, so passersby can know what they're seeing as they stroll by. Prairie and woodland species including Joe

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