Posts tagged rain garden

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:

http://prrcd.org/inl/recommended_plants.htm

http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/runoff/rg/plants/PlantListing.html

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Working on flood prevention

   Rain gardens are one of the ways individuals can work together to help reduce flooding. The Indian Creek Nature Center has scheduled the following two programs for Saturday, Jan. 17, 2009 to learn more. Only a couple spots are open for the second session, on building a rain barrel. Call the Nature Center today (Friday) at (319) 362-0664 to register. Several spots are available in the first session on creating a rain garden, so you might be OK to just show up.

 

PUBLIC PROGRAM-RAINWATER IS NOT RUNOFF! RAINWATER IS A RESOURCE-1 PM: CREATE A RAIN GARDEN-MEMBER:$8-NONMEMBER:$10-As citizens of the earth we have a responsibility to manage run-off from our property and yard. Learn how to capture water from hard surfaces and roofs in rain gardens. Rain gardens are beautiful and environmental! Native seed and plant sources, planting methods, and care will be discussed.

PUBLIC PROGRAM-RAINWATER IS NOT RUNOFF! RAINWATER IS A RESOURCE-2:30 PM: BUILD A RAIN BARREL-A MATERIALS FEE WILL BE CHARGED FOR THIS PROGRAM-Good ideas keep coming back! Our grandparents had a rain barrel and cistern to capture water from roofs. Water was then used for everyday household needs. Get creative and make your own rain barrel with Master Gardener Deb Walser.

 

The Indian Creek Nature Center is at 6665 Otis Rd. SE, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  

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Preventing floods

    Jim Patchett, president of Conservation Design Forum in Illinois, will offer his ideas on flood prevention when he speaks at the Thursday, Dec. 4, Trees Forever forum in Cedar Rapids.

 

    One of the suggestions that anyone can do at home is to start a rain garden. Here are some of the resources he suggested for more information:

 

    Rain Gardens:  A How-to Manual for Home Owners, by Roger Bannerman and Ellen Considine, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources PUB-WT-776-2003 and it can be accessed online by Googling Roger Bannerman/ Rain Gardens.

 

     Also check out www.raingardens.org

This is the web site of the Rain Gardens of West Michigan organization.  Lots of useful information including how to design and construct a rain garden at home.

 

    You can also check the Maplewood, MN web site for rain garden information at www.maplewoodmn.govoffice.com

 

More information on Patchett and the Trees Forever symposium will be in The Gazette.

 

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What is permaculture?

Backyard Abundance and Field to Family are sponsoring a free “What is Permaculture?” event to show residents how they can use Permaculture principles to help our environment in their own backyard.

 

Two yards will be visited: one is undergoing a complete ecological landscape design makeover and the other features an established vegetable and herb garden. At each yard, experts in our community will provide an overview of how to:

  • design an environmentally friendly landscape
  • choose the correct plants
  • design a rain garden
  • install a rain barrel
  • start a new garden bed
  • create compost
  • grow mushrooms

 

Both yards and the features within them are designed based on Permaculture principles and patterns. Permaculture (permanent agriculture) provides a framework and methodology for consciously designing and maintaining urban ecosystems that have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people, providing food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable and ethical way.

 

The event is Sunday, September 7 from 1-4:00 pm. Carpools will be taken from New Pioneer Food Co-Op, 22 S. Van Buren St., Iowa City. People can also drive individually.

 

For arrival times at each yard, directions, and more information, visit the Backyard Abundance web site at http://www.BackyardAbundance.org or contact Fred Meyer at 319-358-7665.

 

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Greenhouse open house

An annual treat in Cedar Rapids will offer an escape from our dreary weather. The Noelridge greenhouses will be open to the public during Easter weekend,  from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. both Saturday, March 22 and Sunday, March 23.

A group called Friends of Noelridge Park, Greenhouses and Gardens, sponsored by Good Earth Garden Club, has been lending a hand at the greenhouses, in northeast Cedar Rapids.  Volunteer Coordinator Cheryl Hoech said she hopes the group keeps growing.

She had this to say: “Our motto is ‘Community growing together.’ We can always use more volunteers. Among our hopes and dreams are: build a wedding gazebo by the flower gardens; build a shade structure; plant a hosta garden; build and plant a rain garden.”

The group plans to continue supporting greenhouse staff with routine work at Noelridge and 11 other properties the staff maintains. Cheryl said tree branches in city parks need to be picked up before other maintenance can be done, a possibility for a citywide park cleanup event. Volunteers also get hungry, so people who can bring treats to them are also welcome.
The group can be reached at: noelridge@gmail.com 
 

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