An inspired wildlife garden in southern Saratoga

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This week a challenge was posed to imagine turning this sandy pine forest edge into a native plant habitat oasis. Many ecological factors need to be taken into consideration: the complete abscense of any nutrients in the sandy soil, the slope of the hill that lends to erosion, and lack of water retention in quickly filtered sand. Drought tolerant Saratoga native plants had to be the sole consideration.

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We chose Ironweed (Vernonia baldwinii), Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpurea), Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosa), Ox-Eye Sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides), Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa) and June-bearing Strawberry (Fragaria spp.). These plants will offer a natural shock of color and they will attract butterflies and birds. Being at the forest edge, we expect a high volume of wildlife traffic. Edge habitat is one of the keys to the science of Ecology.
Due to the home’s location it is nicely alligned with the Connected Pine Grove, the ecological constellation between Albany, Saratoga and Glens Falls which contains the Wilton Wildlife Preserve and aims to protect the endangered butterfly species, Karner Blue Butterfly. In homage to the local ecological culture and also because it’s the ideal growth conditions, we decided to broadcast Blue Lupine seeds. The lupine seeds and clover seeds will be spread over a blanket of mulch. The mulch will deteriorate over time and moderately improve the sand content, but more dramatically the mulch will help stall water for plant absorption. An organic fertilizer and lots of love were also indespensible today.

20120924-182002.jpg The native plants were planted in a swale where water won’t roll down at a straight pitch, but rather stall in the flat and allow absorption.

20120924-182302.jpg Above is a photo of Jerusalem Artichoke at maturity, and below one of Ox-Eye Sunflower.

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Above is a mature Asclepias tuberosa (Orange butterflyweed) and below Asclepias incarnata (Swamp Milkweed).

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20120924-183054.jpg Above is mature Joe Pye Weed at the border of a Saratoga garden, and below an adult blooming Ironweed.

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20120924-183535.jpg The strawberries will delight in the rough terrain; here’s hoping for lots of strawberry family joy!

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