At the Healthy Living Market, which occupies the old JC Penny’s space in the Wilton Mall of Saratoga Springs, NY, there is a new Monarch Waystation site. We had the privilege of doing a landscape renovation to the surrounding island beds and sidewalk gardens several years ago. We included many native perennials, and cumulatively the site is a functioning butterfly garden with almost forty individual Milkweed plants for Monarch butterflies to use as their host plants, including both Asclepias incarnata and A. tuberosa. A sign is being delivered from Monarch Watch that will indicate the site’s certified, registered status.
There are many other native plants besides the Milkweeds in the landscape here, including the Skullcap (Scutellaria incana) and Beebalm (Monarda fistulosa) shown here. Theres Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium maculata), NY Ironweed (Vernonia glauca), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Pink Native Coreopsis (Coreopsis rosea), Pale Indian Plantain (Arnoglossum atriplicifolium) and Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosa), and I love the very public, colorful spectacle these plants will provide when they all bloom in the coming days. As the community members see the Monarch Waystation when they visit the mall, maybe they will be moved to emulate the wildlife gardening concepts on their properties, and the effect felt in the ecosystem may be powerful.
Honestly I haven’t seen many butterflies on the site yet. A whole mall’s worth of asphalt has probably gotten the butterflies feeling unwelcome over the years, but I have hopes we’ll attract them before long. Located in such a commercial setting, this kind of Monarch Waystation is worth gold, and I have seen a lot of dragonflies already. The mall’s acreage sits adjacent to wetlands on the north and forest on the east and south, so this urban habitat can easily become a block in the local wildlife corridor.
*Update- In the years since this article was written, there have been many successful generations of Monarch butterflies. In the summer of 2017, we would see butterflies in the gardens all day, every day.
Resident dragonfly at the Mall’s Monarch Waystation.