Recently I wrote about the story of how I came to be the landscape designer for Allison Mack’s wildlife garden. I was as surprised as anyone in the summer of 2012 when my phone rang and on the other end was an internationally known actress and activist who had heard of my ecological garden design business and wanted to meet me.
Among the other, edible gardens, Allison Mack and I planned to plant NY native plants to harmonize with the neighboring ecosystem and wildlife. Lots of Asclepias incarnata (Swamp Milkweed) was planted for Monarch butterfly support. Other natives in this bed include Amsonia hubrectii, Eupatorium maculata (Spotted Joe Pye Weed), Clematis virginia (native Clematis), Echinacea purpurea (Coneflower), Andropogon gerardii (Big Bluestem Grass), and Allium cernuum.
Elsewhere on the property in a partial shade garden, we added a collection of shade tolerant native plants. The bed is now, ten months later, bursting with new life. Months of sequential beauty, motion and color are just beginning to unfold.
At the far corner of the partial shade bed, there is a row of Zizia aurea (Golden Alexander), which packs a lot of muscular ecological wallop for such an unassuming looking plant. Golden Alexander is the larval host plant for the butterfly species Papilio polyxenes, the Black Swallowtail. Z. aurea also is of special value to native bees, and attracts predatory insects, according to the Xerces Society. The influx of insects is in turn always helpful for bird populations that feed their young exclusively with insects. (That’s most bird species.) Pound for pound, more insects equals more birds and cumulatively more life for Saratoga County- or wherever the native plants garden in question lives.