This summer I had the privilege of doing ecological garden renovations at a farm in Saratoga. The farm is located in quintessential farm country, heading east on the way to Schuylerville, surrounded by miles on all sides of wild beauty. It’s a dream location for this exact kind of project: planting dozens of native plants at a site like this has immediate and noticeable results. Songbird populations are bolstered and more butterflies show up almost overnight. This was the first location where I observed some Monarch butterflies this year, most likely due to all the wild Milkweed plants growing in the fields and roadsides adjacent to the site.
The property has heavy clay soil and as a result of a mature tree line, mostly partial shade conditions which affected our plant choices.
The ecological garden renovations to this Saratoga farm property will provide an inviting space for hummingbirds, butterflies, dragonflies, songbirds, native bees and many other pollinators.
We also developed a shady, woodland habitat garden that will eventually look like a woodland meadow garden with a stone path through it.
This property is located on a busy road and the homeowners struggled for years with poor visibility at the road’s edge. We used the lasanga organic no-till garden method to smother the vegetation, and after a week planted a mix of native groundcovers and native species vines that can behave like groundcover when they are not climbing anything.
This summer a longtime landscaping dream crystallized into reality for me: I was called on to be the landscape designer at a new Saratoga County construction site. The homes are located in a new subdivision in Clifton Park and use a lot of high end, eco-friendly building materials from the Saratoga Springs based Green Conscience Home and Garden store. The builder was interested in sustainable landscaping for the new construction.
We chose plant species that are indigenous to New York state. Besides being beautiful and colorful through the seasons, native plant landscaping is low maintenance and offers life support for our native wildlife, including butterflies and songbirds.
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.