This summer we 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 we observed any 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. (This Elderberry ((Sambucas canadensis)) grew extremely quickly to maturity. Its current height is a proud 7+ feet.) We planted a “native superfruit,” Black Chokeberry aka Aronia melanocarpa. The health food store sells Aronia juice, which is a superfruit… It’s native and you can grow it right at home. Black Chokeberry does very well in clay soil; Elderberry does too.
We also developed a shady, woodland habitat garden that will eventually look like a woodland meadow garden with a stone path through it. As the years progress, we will build a sitting area in the shade garden.
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 lasagna 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.