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 89 e caterpillars and their chrysalises stay out in natural temperatures through early spring before some are brought in for the hatching and later released in the flight house. Last year, Idlewild partnered with the Louisville Zoo to create a Kentucky butterfly exhibit. Leano-Helvey points to a patch of milkweed in the area behind the building where the aviary and for-sale native plants predominate. What started as one plant has spread vigorously in this urban garden. "It's because of this species right here: common milkweed," Leano-Helvey says. "It has a pretty intense taproot that can run 15 to 20 feet underground. But we get a lot of wild butterflies here, so we like to have a lot of nectar for them." ree years ago, the monarch's allure inspired Sean and Donna Delahanty to plant milkweed at their Highlands home near Tyler Park. ey've turned their terraced front yard into a garden that now contains a mixture of native and non- native species. It's something of a trial-and- error nursery. Among the coneflowers, Jethro Tull, hydrangeas and butterfly bushes are a few mysteries. Sean points to one not- yet-flowering piece of vegetation in the midst of purposefully planted specimens. "is thing right here, it just showed up. I don't know what it is, but I really like it," says the former Jefferson County District Court judge. ere are thistles, ornamental grasses, butterfly weed and a small pin oak and dogwood tree mixed in on the three levels in front. ey've installed a shade garden and other colorful flowers and shrubs in back. It could well be the thistles that have rewarded the Delahantys with a striking pair of goldfinches; the yellow male and its mate use down from these thistles to line their nests and, of course, dine on the seeds. e first September after putting a half-dozen common milkweed plants in front and another six in back of the house, the Delahantys counted 50 green monarch chrysalises on these plants. When some disappeared overnight they pulled 10 or so into the house to incubate and let the adult monarchs go when they arrived. "I like the monarchs, but I'm a little disappointed we've only had them one out of three years," he says. "If we get monarchs it's fabulous. If we don't I spend too much of my summer digging this milkweed up." Its runner-type roots allow this species to show up uninvited elsewhere in the garden. No doubt, monarchs would more consistently move in with the Delahantys if more gardens with the requisite milkweed species existed in their neighborhood. at's why proponents of the native-plants movement are trying to spread the seed more widely. Carreiro makes public appearances on the topic and proselytizes to anyone who will listen. She wants to include even the suburban subdivisions notorious for regulations that require lawns and restrict gardens. e argument is this: Even if most residents in a neighborhood assign just a small portion of their property to native plants, it can provide food and pollinator habitat for populations able to connect from yard to yard. "Cities and suburbs can play a role," she says, "but we've been growing turf grass and annuals and some perennials that are mostly of European or Asian origin. ey're not well matched to our pollinators." Before she retired from U of L in 2018, Carreiro assigned a student the task of analyzing maps of Jefferson County's 330- plus square miles. e student found that approximately 35 percent of the land is zoned residential. Further analysis revealed that the footprints of all houses, roads and other hard-paved surfaces on that residential land take up about 4 percent of that residential property. e bottom line: Approximately 31 percent of the county, nearly one-third, is what Carreiro describes as "plantable space in residentially zoned land. If even 10 percent (of that 31 percent) became native plant pollinator space, it would really contribute," she says. "It would create stepping stones, corridors for movement to allow species to live in the area and also move through it. "One hundred or so years ago people knew all the names of the birds and the fish and the insects because there was more nature around us. People were surrounded by nature a hundred years ago, and now nature is surrounded by people."

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