Thursday, October 2, 2008

Rain Garden? What's That?

Rebecca Fox enjoying the rain garden

by Joan H. Young
a GOTC Exclusive

We met in the rain, Rebecca Fox and I, to explore the rain garden. It seemed appropriate, and the chilly, damp day was not able to dim Rebecca's smile. Rebecca spearheaded the effort to create the garden, which was built in 2005.

The rain garden can be found at West Shore Community College, just off the northeast corner of the Arts & Science parking lot. Many people mistake it for a weed patch, and that is their loss. Like many worthwhile projects one needs to look a little more closely to appreciate what it has to offer.

As we approach autumn, the design of the garden is hidden from view. Snaking through the now-tall plants is a spiraled and branched stone walkway inviting people to wander through the garden and to look closely at the plants growing there. The "secret" paths would be especially inviting to a child.

closed gentian
When we first arrived Rebecca decisively headed up a path and exclaimed, "Look, the closed gentian is blooming! This is one of our rare plants." Indeed the deep blue bottles practically glowed in the muted light. Visit in the spring, as the plants are just beginning their growth and the design of the stones will fascinate. Variety in textures and colors, with an occasional rock surprise will delight the eye. The garden was designed by Lissa Bluhm.

swamp milkweed seeds
The garden was planted with over 1000 native plants, representing over 50 species. Rebecca said that it took about three weeks to plant the spiral. There is a mix of prairie and wetland plants. Blooming this week are bright red cardinal flower, great blue lobelia, black-eyed susans, purple New-England aster, sky-blue aster, calico aster, the closed gentian, and goldenrods. The beauty of gardens such as this is often found in looking for details. The seeds of a swamp milkweed, just opening, form ranks of ovals- a pleasing pattern.

Rain gardens are planted in areas which receive run-off water, usually from parking lots, roofs or lawns. The plants will tolerate the extra moisture and slow the velocity of the water movement, thus reducing erosion and trapping pollutants. Rebecca added that they hope to use the garden for educational purposes as well.

The project is a collaborative effort of A.F.F.E.W. and West Shore Community College. A.F.F.E.W. stands for A Few Friends for the Environment of the World, and is a Ludington-based environmental group.

See A.F.F.E.W.
See for other examples of rain gardens
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

Go To for all the news
See West Shore Community College trails
See Get Off The Couch

1 comment:


I saw the link to your blog on my SER International email news. Good for you planting Rain Gardens to help the water quality in the Great Lakes Region! And thank you for blogging about it! I wasn't aware of this type of project and I wish you luck with it. Maybe we can encourage more of the same type of thing here in the south by following your project and watching your success.

Related Posts with Thumbnails