Fran & Harvey Cantor

  • 1 acre restored woodland near I-270 and I-64 in St. Louis County
  • Perennial flowers and woody plants added, but also plenty of natural recruitment
  • Bush honeysuckle eliminated, but wintercreeper still being fought in the woods
  • Native plants for pollinators added to garden beds around house
  • Certified Gold in St. Louis Audubon Bring Conservation Home program

“Our landscaping is all about trying to live in Missouri. Not the street address of our house but the ‘real Missouri,’ the one that existed before European settlers.”

Fran is from south Texas and was completely smitten by Missouri’s trees. In fact, she and Harvey bought their house in 1972 without ever seeing the inside. They bought it for the giant trees. Still, after moving in, Harvey planted more trees. Most of the trees along the driveway were transplanted from a property his dad had owned near Tesson Ferry; the tulip trees were $3 each from Venture (if you are old enough to remember Venture).

They settled in with two young kids and tried to mow the lawn and be good homeowners, but something was always wrong. Fran would say to friends that she wanted to give the yard back to Missouri. As a charter member of Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Fran was learning about native plants. As the movement grew, Fran took classes, read books like “Lawn Gone,” and took Harvey to native plant sales at Shaw Nature reserve, and they started planting natives.

Eventually, Fran was chosen to chair a Creve Coeur citizen committee where she led the effort to overhaul the weed ordinance to be accepting of native plants. Their 2012 consultation with St. Louis Audubon’s Bring Conservation Home program felt like a big green light that giving their yard back to Missouri was acceptable and desirable. So in 2014 they took the big plunge and turned their backyard turf into native habitat.

Fran and Harvey invite you to come see their “little piece of Missouri.” They would like to share what they have learned so together we can bring back more of Missouri!

Registrants are encouraged to enter the driveway and park in the turn-around northwest of the garage.