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Butterfly Gardening at the Woodlawn Preserve

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Native plant butterfly garden planting day in Schenectady, NY.

In spring 2017 we were delighted to be contacted for a dream project. The volunteers from a nature preserve in Schenectady, NY contacted our company to design a butterfly garden for the preserve. The Woodlawn Nature Preserve is a part of the connected Pine Grove ecosystem, aka the Albany Pine Bush. The Pine Grove is a series of geographically disjoined DEC managed preserves spanning from Albany all the way north to the Adirondacks in NYS. Karner Blue butterfly habitat is the keystone of this unique ecosystem in the barren Pine forests. The Friends of the Woodlawn Preserve group successfully sought funding for a butterfly garden to be developed at the edge of the preserve, conveniently adjacent to a local elementary school.

20140618-164358.jpgWetlands inside the Woodlawn Nature Preserve.

Some of the teachers at the school told the kids about the butterfly garden, and the kids were really excited and wanted to help plant. They started Parsley, Dill, Fennel and Sunflower seedlings in their classrooms, and they planted them after the volunteers finished planting the native perennials.

An eagle lives in this preserve. Sadly, the preserve (like many wild spaces in this day and age), is infested with invasive plant species like the Phragmites grass in this photo that devours our New York wetland habitat spaces. The butterfly garden we planted today is composed of 100% New York state native plant species. As the plants mature and form blooms that turn to seed heads, the copious songbird neighbors will eat the seeds, which will then travel with the birds into the preserve and enrich the seed bank.

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Students and volunteers planting native gardens together in Schenectady, NY at the Woodlawn Nature Preserve.

We were sure to include lots of Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), the Monarch butterfly host plant. The design was strategically planned to have three seasons of bloom. This is acheived by including early, mid-season and late blooming plants.  Some early to flower specimens are Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) and Golden Alexander (Zizia aurea). Latest to bloom include New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) and Ageratum (Eupatorium coelestinum). Two classic mid-summer flowering plant examples are Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium maculatum) and Cardinal Lobelia (Lobelia cardinalis). Since the garden site is literally several feet from an active wetland, we had to choose plants that can tolerate (and even thrive) in wet conditions. The immediate gratification of the wetland proximity will be high wildlife activity, probably overnight. Butterflies, songbirds, hummingbirds, dragonflies, native bees of all colors will become a lot more noticeable in the coming weeks and months.

Want some butterfly habitat gardens constructed at your property? We’d love to meet you! Fill out our intake form and we’ll be in touch soon.