Albany Deer Gardens.
Albany Deer Gardens.
In the summer of 2017, we got a call to renovate the gardens surrounding a townhouse in Albany, NY. The townhouse was located within the Albany Pinebush ecosystem, right near the park.
The gentleman of the house was known to his friends as, “Miami Joe.” He was the first customer we ever had who requested an edge garden be planted that the deer could eat. The request surprised us at the time. Yes, the nature lovers of Saratoga, Albany + Schenectady/Niskayuna tend to find us, but most people definitely want the deer to stay out of their gardens.
Planting gardens that contain wildflowers the deer (and rabbits) won’t eat has become a specialty by now. In 2022, 75-80% of new clients requested “deer proof,” or “rabbit proof” gardens. It’s understandable. Investing in renovating the property just to see mammals eat the plants hurts. We’ve refined our design methods and plant palette over the years in response. Being able to comfortably plant gardens on properties where deer and rabbits abound is important. However, a client who wants to feed the deer is a rare gem. Subsequently through the years, more people have requested this. Cottage style gardens near the house that are deer/rabbit proof with woods’ edge plantings that can feed the deer.
Flora that co-evolved with deer.
All of our native Goldenrod (Solidago) and many of our Asters (Symphyotrichum plus) are naturally suited for deer and rabbit food. (Especially New England Aster- Symphyotrichum novae-angliae). The plants have ridiculous work ethic. On a sunny day in July, you could set up a lawn chair and literally watch the Asters and Goldenrods get taller. They co-evolved with our hungry mammals and can quickly re-grow when faced with voracious deer browsing.
Joe’s entire property was already a lightly managed garden. He didn’t have any lawn, and he didn’t use any chemicals. We were astonished by the sheer volume of Monarch butterflies, and especially caterpillars that were breeding on his Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) volunteers. One day we counted 30+ individual Monarch caterpillars. So, Joe was already doing a lot for the butterflies, pollinators and songbirds of the Albany Pinebush. When he called Jessecology in, he was already winning the habitat restoration trophy. As a result of our work, he added hundreds of new native plants along with the Solidago and Aster for deer.
All things considered, meeting Joe and getting to work with him was one of the nicest things that’s happened in our company’s history. Traditionally, Saint Joseph is remembered for creating safe spaces, protection and care for the people he loved. (That refers equally to both St. Joseph the Betrothed, and St. Joseph of Arimathea.) We won’t forget how our Joseph made this mini nature preserve around his Albany Pinebush townhouse. He protects and provides for our ecosystem’s wildlife from beyond. The Albany Deer Gardens concept was his gift to us. We remember him with our “Wildflowers for Deer Seed Mix,” and in every Goldenrod flower on every property edge we plant.