Breeding Success in the Monarch Waystation at Healthy Living

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.

Replacing Barberry with Native Wildflowers in Saratoga Springs, NY

Recently I wrote an article about the link between using Japanese Barberry shrubs in landscaping and an increase in human Lyme disease infection rates in the surrounding neighborhoods. As people in Saratoga Springs, NY are learning about how we the people are collaborating against ourselves in a public health crisis through lazy and shortsighted landscaping practices, I’m hearing from more and more people who are enthusiastically interested in replacing the Barberry in their landscaping with native plants, either native shrubs like Viburnum, Red or Black Chokeberry, Clethra or Elderberry, or a tasteful native wildflower design as shown in this photo. Where there is now a rich mix of Cardinal Lobelia, Ox-Eye Sunflower, Coneflower, Little Joe Pye Weed, Phlox maculata and Rudbeckia hirta there once was the noxious, invasive Japanese Barberry and boring, non-native Holly bushes.

20140804-215707.jpg Replacing invasive plants with natives is an investment in our community. It strengthens our ecosystem by offering food to our butterflies, pollinators and songbirds, and the beautification value can not be understated. These homeowners can have cut wildflowers for bouquets all season long now if they wish now, which is aesthetically a huge step up from looking at the tired Barberry all the time. I hope to get many more calls for replacing Japanese Barberry with native wildflowers and shrubs in Saratoga Springs this summer and fall, because it’s one of the best type of project there is.