Giant Ironweed (Vernonia gigantea), A Rare Beauty

20140902-103254.jpg Giant Ironweed (Vernonia gigantea) is a gorgeous New York state native species plant that’s listed as endangered and rare in New York, and is noteably difficult to find for sale, even at specialty native plant nurseries. NY Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis) is another native Ironweed species that’s easier to locate at nurseries. Both Giant Ironweed and NY Ironweed are both excellent replacements for non-native, invasive Butterfly Bush (Buddleia)- the Vernonia species are butterfly magnets that outshine Buddleia as a source of nectar for butterflies and other pollinators. Giant Ironweed often grows to 13′ in height, so it may not be ideal for all garden sites. But where there’s space for it, Giant Ironweed definitely shines as a rare beauty in Saratoga gardens.

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Breeding Success in the Monarch Waystation at Healthy Living

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Imagine my delight to see a Monarch caterpillar at the Saratoga Springs Healthy Living Market’s certified Monarch Waystation during a visit this week! When I initially wrote about the Monarch waystation project, I mentioned I didn’t expect to even see butterflies this year; I definitely didn’t think we’d see Monarch breeding success in the waystation this quickly!

20140824-211545.jpg photo credit George Romano of Healthy Living.

The first Monarch butterfly was spotted by a Healthy Living employee several weeks ago. We had no idea that she was a female, and that she was busy laying eggs on the Milkweed. This commercial space, acres of mall parking lots sandwiched between wetlands and forests, is obviously perfectly situated for habitat restoration, and I’m really excited to see how many Monarch butterflies learn to visit and breed at the Saratoga Healthy Living Waystation in years to come, as the native plant gardens become ever more established in the landscaping.

20140824-215335.jpg The Monarch waystation is hosting other wonderful insects, including the ladybugs shown in this photo, adding tremendously to the biodiversity of our mall’s landscaping and parking lot.

Front Yard Gardens by the Oklahoma Track in Saratoga Springs, NY

20140806-221222.jpg Last year I did a landscape renovation for an urban client that I felt crystalized a wildlife corridor in Saratoga Springs, NY through the positioning of multiple individual local properties with eco-savvy landscape design. This habitat renewal space is located in front yard gardens by the Oklahoma Track, on East Avenue in Saratoga Springs.

20140806-224924.jpg The Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium maculata) is very happy along the back side of the design and when the Joe Pye flowers turn to seed pods it’ll coincide with the NY Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis) coming into brilliant purple bloom.

20140806-225749.jpg The neighborhood’s pollinators have taken notice of all the new native plants, like the bee on the Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) in this photo.

20140806-230311.jpg More species of native plants have been added to the front yard gardens by the Oklahoma Track in Saratoga Springs, NY this year. As this habitat, exclusively native plants landscape design continues to become established it is excited to see how it will unfold.