University of Louisville Magazine

FALL 2017

The University of Louisville Alumni Magazine: for alumni, faculty, staff, students and anyone that is a UofL Cardinal fan.

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42 UOFLMAGAZINE.COM hen Margaret Carreiro confesses that she is on the stump, she isn't making a biologist's pun. The ecologist is passion- ate about gardens and willing to take her enthusiasm from lecturing in a classroom to researching in the field to speaking to commu- nity organizations about the benefits of nature, and how we can incor- porate a little bit of green into our everyday lives. Lately the biology professor has been talking about biophilia, or humans' innate push to seek connections with nature. The concept has spurred cities to look at becoming more livable through nature and to acknowledge that people grow happier and healthier with more exposure to nature. Carreiro and her colleagues are bringing biophilia to Louisvillians by helping to grow gardens in the middle of the city, creating urban homes for bees and butterflies to increase pollination and working with local parks organizations and greenhouses to save native plants in the region. "I wanted something that was more positive and involving people," she said. "We don't have to wait around for government to do conser- vation. We can do it ourselves." Carreiro's e rts help ease her worries about the possibility of a world of children with what she termed nature-deficit disorder. "There are a lot of kids that are not going to make it to a park on a regular basis," she said. But growing a little patch of garden wherev- er they are can help. "Kids get exposed to a little bit of nature in their world and they find wonder in it. I think that's healthy." And that goes for "college kids" too. Not-so-secret garden Students and others who stroll Belknap Campus no- tice an oasis of native plants and colorful insects on the west side of the Life Sciences Building. The Harriet Korage Native Plant Garden, named for a 1950 and 1963 UofL alumna and longtime Valley High School biolo- gy teacher whose family helped fund the project, is intended to support the education and research of UofL stu- dents as well as to educate others about indigenous plants. And for pol- linators that alight, "it is a gas station and, I hope, a nursery," Carreiro added. The garden project was begun in 2015 by Ron Fell, biology department chair, and Carreiro with the collaboration of Uo- fL's horticultural groundskeepers under the direction of their superintendent, Greg Schetler. The crew transformed the lawnlike spot into a gar- den with paths, underground water system, fence and soil enriched with compost from the universi- ty's compost recycling site. So far the garden supports about 70 species, and the department's website lists its plants and information along with tips for starting small, pol- linator gardens elsewhere. Biology colleagues David Schultz and Sarah Emery helped Carreiro decide on which plants, which were added in col- laboration with area businesses Dropseed Native Plant Nursery and Plant Kingdom. The plantings are intended as food and havens for pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, that have been threatened by environmental change. To keep the populations going, the plants need to include hosts that provide the caterpillars' food. For instance, that's why the garden includes milkweed varieties that can serve as a place for monarch butterflies to lay eggs and a food source for the resulting caterpillars. UofL biologists hope the garden will become a way sta- tion for the migrating monarchs. "Kentucky is really important on the flyback," Carreiro said. Native plants tend to o er the best nectar for native insects — the "gas station" function that she mentioned. And if the insects lay eggs, the plot becomes a nursery. "Most people see this and see a garden. I see a conservation place," Carreiro said. Carreiro and Fell hope the on-campus garden will educate urban students who likely are unfamiliar with flora that is native to Ken- tucky and with the seasonal changes they can observe happening as they walk by and through. Pollination stations The garden also serves as a living laboratory for students, several of whom volunteer with fac- ulty members to weed it. Perri Eason, direc- tor of graduate studies for the department, was unable to walk through it recently without dropping to pull some unwel- come foliage creeping into the path. In one section rise some soapy, wa- ter-filled collection bowls on posts. From those, researchers gather insects to see what types of winged visitors fre- quent the garden. Similar bowls have sprouted all across the city as part of research projects exam- ining insect pollinators and how they vary from urban to A butterfly in the Native Plant Garden.

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