Posts tagged North Liberty

A look at rain gardens

Gazette photographer Brian Ray takes photos of Lucy Hershberger in the rain garden at Forever Green Garden Center near North Liberty (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Gazette photographer Brian Ray takes photos of Lucy Hershberger in the rain garden at Forever Green Garden Center near North Liberty (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Our flood anniversary tribute continues with a look at rain gardens. Several people I interviewed for the article in the Sunday, June 14, 2009, Gazette said while rain gardens would not have prevented last year’s devastating floods in Iowa, they could have helped. Lucy Hershberger, co-owner of Forever Green Landscaping & Garden Center in Coralville showed me the well-kept rain garden in front of their site on Forevergreen Road, near North Liberty. Yellow and blue flag iris, native grasses, coneflower, liatris and dwarf arctic blue willow were planted when the rain garden was installed in September. It’s obvious that Hershberger’s  enthusiasm goes beyond trying to sell customers on a new fad. She has conducted free seminars on rain gardens for people to learn more and to better take care of their little corner of the environment. Hershberger remembers the interest in rain gardens and rain barrels in the early 1990s, at that time because of costs associated with watering. “Now it’s because of the awareness of stormwater management,” she said. “It’s not cost-driven.”

Blue flag iris

Blue flag iris

The following list of plants is from Iowa’s Rain Garden Design and Installation Manual Native Plant Favorites for Soils with Good Percolation Rates:

Common Name Height Comments

Blue grama 1-2 ft makes a good border

Bottle gentian 1 ft novel purple flowers

Butterfly milkweed 1-4 ft emerges late spring; no milky sap

Columbine 1-2 ft orange flower stalk may add 1 ft

Culver’s root 3-6 ft can get tall; for moderatley moist soils

Fox sedge 1-3 ft may not tolerate drought

Golden alexander 1-3 ft yellow dill-like flower, mod moist soils

Little bluestem 2 ft nice rusty color all winter

Mountain mint 1-3 ft for moist soils

Nodding onion 1-2 ft for moderately moist soils

Pale purple coneflower 4 ft most overused native; only in S. Iowa

Prairie blazing star 2-5 ft for moist soils

Prairie smoke 1 ft makes a good border

Sideoats grama 2-3 ft red anthers; not as tidy as little bluestem

Silky aster 1-2 ft loved by rabbits

Websites with native plant lists for rain gardens:

Leave a comment »

Food pantries

   Something has been missing from my summer.

   One of the highlights I enjoyed during past growing seasons was taking my extra produce to a food pantry.

   Loaves & Fishes in Cedar Rapids was one of the places I liked to take my garden overruns of tomatoes, cucumbers or whatever else I grew faster than my family could consume.

   The satisfaction of knowing someone would enjoy the fruits of my labor and at least one healthy meal was often the high point of my week. The smiles and thanks from the volunteers and the folks who lined up to get the food was humbling.

   This year, either I figured out how to limit the number of plants growing in my garden or it just hasn’t been a high-yield summer. With 12 pepper plants, I should have three or four dozen peppers, at least. So far, I’ve picked one. Not one dozen. Just one. The same is true for many other things I planted.

  Even if this has not been a bumper year for my garden, maybe it has been for yours. Don’t let your veggies go to waste.


Following is a list of area food pantries or organizations that have in the past accepted fresh garden produce. I haven’t checked with all of them since this summer’s floods, and I know some of them were affected by flooding, so please call ahead first. If you know of other food pantries that accept garden produce or if you know one of the following no longer needs it, please add a comment below.


Cedar Rapids


Catholic Worker House, 1027 Fifth Ave. SE, (319) 362-9041

Green Square Meals, 400 Fourth Ave. SE, (319) 241-3448

Loaves & Fishes, 1251 Third Ave. SE, (319) 366-7185

Mission of Hope, 1537 First Ave. SE, (319) 362-5559

St. Vincent de Paul, 928 Seventh St. SE, (319) 365-5091

Salvation Army, 1000 C Ave. NW, (319) 364-9131

Waypoint, 318 Fifth St. SE, (319) 365-1458

Willis Dady Emergency Shelter, 1247 Fourth Ave. SE, (319) 362-7555


Surrounding area


Churches of Marion Pantry, 802 12th St., Marion, (319) 377-7309

Crisis Center Food Bank, 1121 Gilbert Ct., Iowa City, (319) 351-0128

North Liberty Food and Clothing Pantry, 85 N. Jones Blvd., (319) 626-2711

Camp Courageous, Monticello, (319) 465-5916.

Leave a comment »