Last summer I began transforming a bland ornamental garden in Burnt Hills, NY into a colorful, low maintenance native plant habitat oasis. We began referring to the newly eco-friendly garden property as, “the bluebird house” because soon after the addition of the first round of native plants bluebirds began frequenting the gardens and yard. One male bluebird seems to live close by and visits every evening at the same time.

Lots of non-native Daylilies and invasive Japanese Barberry have been ripped out and replaced with NY and US native species plants. Noteably some Asclepias incarnata, Swamp Milkweed was added recently, which is the Monarch butterfly’s host plant.

At the time of planting in late spring 2012, I had some confusion about the native status of Buphthalmum sp. Though there’s a lot to love about Buphthalmum, (the tough prairie growth habit. Lovely yellow composite flowers that feed both adult butterflies and after going to seed, some of the migrating birds. Aromatic foliage like I’ve never seen on any other plant ever.) I don’t plant Buphthalmum anymore because it does not support any native insects, and native insect carrying capacity determines our songbird’s ability to feed their broods and sustain their populations. Most of our bird populations are struggling. The easy way to avoid more bird species extinctions is to plant more native plants in our gardens that support the insect life (avoid use of pesticides), we then effortlessly create a stock of bird food. This is eco-friendly gardening at it’s finest.

Among the other native plant species we chose were Eupatorium maculata, Joe Pye Weed, Echinacea tennesseensis, endangered Tennessee Coneflower, Eupatorium perfoliatum, Boneset, Eupatorium coelestrium, Ageratum, Salvia sp. Salvia, Angelica gigas, Angelica, Scutellaria incana, Scullcap, Silphium perfoliatum, Cup Plant, Heliopsis sp., native variegated Sunflower, Liatris aspera, rough Blazing Star, Symphyotrichum novae-angliae, New England Aster, Tansy vulgaris, Tansy, Rudbeckia triloba, Rudbeckia Triloba, and Andropogon gerardii, Big Blue Stem grass.

Adding native plants to the bluebird house gardens in Burnt Hills, NY for beautiful, low maintenance environmental gardening development has been an exhilarating process. The topography, natural habitat and ecological conditions of this region of Saratoga county make gardening with native plants a thrill: all the wetlands and intact forest support a rich wildlife community. When we add native plants and use eco-friendly garden design methods in the Burnt Hills, Ballston Spa, Saratoga Springs and Clifton Parks region’s gardens, the return is felt immediately. Often I can observe butterflies or hummingbirds visiting the gardens when the installation of new native plants is happening, and sometimes I hear from my Saratoga County garden design clients in the days afterward about new songbird or butterfly sightings. It’s an experience no one should miss.