Corporate Habitat Garden Project
In Clifton Park, NY (southern Saratoga county) on Route 9, a savvy financial advisor has been watching trends in landscaping. Deborah Christopher, whose Edward Jones office is located in a strip mall on State Route 9, heard about prominent entomologist Douglas Tallamy’s research and ecological trend-setting for redefining curb appeal to be more sustainable and habitat restorative. Deb reached out to me for a habitat garden landscape renovation outside her office space; she loved the idea of a design that was both, beautiful and low maintenance, as native plant landscapes naturally are.
The space at the front of Debbie’s office is shady, sandy soil and dry, located on the west side of the building and under a mature Ash tree that has a monopoly on the bed’s excess moisture. The native plant choices had to be able to flourish in dry, woodland garden conditions.
Adiantum pedatum, Maidenhair Fern was a shoo-in choice for the niche conditions, as its elegance is unparalleled and given its druthers the plant would grow in the dry shade of a woodland garden anyways.
Other species used include Polystichum acrostichoides</em, Christmas Fern, Hepatica nobilis, Hepatica, Cimicifuga racemosa, Black Cohosh for some height and Asarum canadense, A. arifolium Wild Ginger.
Viola triloba, Three-Lobed Violet is another plant in the woodland garden scheme we chose, and the Violas are larval host for the marginalized Fritillary butterfly family, so including them in a landscape improves the habitat.
Given the dry, desert like conditions it seemed apropos to have a water feature, even one this rustic (this is simply a terra cotta pot base, with a rock for a perch) brings the element of water into the landscape and provides a drinking space for birds and butterflies.
We don’t typically see corporate America as a warm audience for our subversive message of creating habitat garden spaces and thoughtfulness for wildlife. I was fortunate enough to come in contact with a future-minded corporate investment specialist, who coolly evaluated the current trends in run-of-the-mill landscaping practices, and saw the value in redefining curb appeal to include habitat garden projects and native plants. Though Debbie Christopher is a trend setter sweetheart and one of a kind, I feel like all of us wildlife gardening zealots might do well to expand our rolodexes to include people who work in other facets of society than the green industries as friends. “When people like each other, the rules change.” (Ira Glass said that once on This American Life). People generally become more receptive to new ideas when they’re introduced from a friendly, familiar person. Civilians? (I’m unsure what to call people who don’t love nature to the same degree I’m used to) just lack information about native plants and habitat restoration: it’s not their fault, they inherited this system just like we did. In my experience, decimation of ecological research and anecdotes is often well received…over lunch. Or coffee. If it ends up that the banker, architect, real estate agent or lawyer I’m eating with is not especially interested in native plant gardening for habitat restoration, that’s okay, maybe I made a new friend. And if my new, previously disinterested friend does now care about cooperating with nature, well… I think maybe that’s how any positive changes actually happen.
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