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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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 8.19 87 In this welcoming environment, Croce and Frey have spotted spicebush swallowtails, both yellow and blue swallowtails and the beloved monarchs. A big bonus is the birds that find their way to this insect-friendly slice of Jeffersonville. e couple has identified an eastern towhee, black-and-white warblers and various sparrows among their native gardens, along with the standard cardinals, robins and blue jays. Frey's favorite is the wood thrush, with its sonorous trilling call. is bird winters in Central America, flying across the Gulf of Mexico in a single night. Likely on its way to breeding grounds to our north, it stops in spring to entertain Frey and Croce for a few weeks. "We've been taught to kill insects, to be afraid of things that crawl," Croce says. "But we're part of this ecosystem, even the smallest parts of it." He mentions wild ginger and its small red flower that lies on the ground and is propagated by crawling insects. e seeds that later develop are carried underground by ants, who eat an oily appendage to the seed and then leave the rest to sprout undisturbed by other hungry creatures. e couple once was cited by the city of Jeffersonville for having vegetation hanging out over the sidewalk, but has never been told to remove any of the native plants. Croce says they attempt, with neighbors in mind, to keep the property from looking too "weedy" during non-flowering seasons. She admits that they've run out of room to add to their gardens. "We've reached peak," she says. Margaret Shea, the owner of Dropseed Native Plant Nursery in Goshen, specializes in the native plants that our fauna evolved to coexist with. She has a master's degree in ecology, and, prior to opening the nursery, worked at Bernheim Forest, focusing on the restoration of damaged areas within the preserve. She rooted out invasive species, reintroduced controlled burns and Pye weed, spiderwort, columbine and milkweed are among them. Many of these plants are food sources for caterpillars. And speaking of caterpillars: In addition to growing up to become pretty pollinators, they provide a major link in the food web. Caterpillars are for birds what cheesy omelets once represented for my wife and myself: a go-to food source for offspring. "Caterpillars are about 80 to 90 percent of the food for birds to feed their offspring," Carreiro says. "So without caterpillars, you're not going to have as many birds." Along the side of the house near a hazelnut tree, Croce has planted bloodroot, mayapple, wild ginger and other natives. A few trees have been added in back, including hackberry, which is wildly popular with caterpillars of several butterfly species (including the hackberry emperor, which deposits its eggs on the tree's leaves). Blueberry, bottlebrush buckeye, spicebush and other shrubbery grow behind the house as well. "We've been taught to kill insects, to be afraid of things that crawl," Croce says. "But we're part of this ecosystem, even the smallest parts of it." Phyllis Croce and John Frey of Jeffersonville and (here and opposite page) their "pollinator oasis" property.

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