Butterfly Alley and Beyond; For the Love of Lepidoptera

Butterfly Alley was established in 2005.

Phase One was the alley between the back of our garage and the neighbor’s fence on the North side of our property. The strip of land along a wooden fence begins along the edge of a protected courtyard area surrounded on three sides. The courtyard is a paved area overlooked by two floor to ceiling windows of the master bedroom and the window of another bedroom upstairs.

Situated on the back side of our house the windows only offered a view of the garage wall. Amid the barren concrete courtyard that peeking tiny strip of grass called out to be something worth looking at.

I hand dug out all of the grass, repurposed concrete edging and added native plants. Fountains I created in the courtyard add soothing sound. The water and the fruit of the native trees invite birds and other wildlife.

Over the next 3 years I would add more flower beds in the backyard beyond the alley, until in 2008 Psoriatic arthritis severely limited my energy and capacity.

The yard became overgrown and increasingly unmanageable and only the most happy native plantings survived. In 2016 the flood added debris to the already bramble tangled and japanese honeysuckle covered overgrown mess.

Late 2017 I realized that growing things was too pivotal to my well being and that the joy of raising butterflies could provide much needed salvation from the trauma of the aftermath of the flood destruction. I had created a sanctuary in the corner of my bedroom and I began with containers of flowers I could see from the window. As time went on I added more containers of native plants to the courtyard just outside my bedroom sanctuary.

As the space filled, it spilled out past the courtyard. The following year I put down paving stones on grass beyond the driveway leading to the garage. This created a terrace garden for even more containers of plants. Coinciding with empty nest and limited mobility keeping us both home, my husband became an integral partner in reestablishing the Habitat.

In 2018 we added a raised bed vegetable and herb garden and more plants were added to the growing population of containers. 2019 saw the addition of rolling rectangular planters and plants brought back from an anniversary trip to Allen Acres. I also began to unearth the hand made mosaic patio adjacent to the edge of the backyard overgrown flower beds.

In Spring of 2020 we added the “Arboretum”. This is an area of native and beneficial trees in very large pots. It was then we began to work with an eye toward total reclamation and a restoration of the Alley and beyond.

Our favorite thing to do together is to explore nature where Alok aids and abets my passion for capturing photographs of butterflies.

May Butterfly Alley live on.

All photos are property Janine Kharey

Long Tailed Skipper Urbanus proteus

American Lady - Vanessa Virginiensis

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