Rain garden? We had not heard of such a thing in 2005 when we decided to re-work the backyard with native plants. We now understand their primary purpose is to get rain water into the ground and keep it out of storm sewers.
Stacy Borden, arborist and photographer, helped us with the backyard, and suggested the slope from the house would work well for a rain garden. As a result, rain from our roof goes underground, comes out under a large rock, and travels down an otherwise dry creek bed to a depression.
We had a day of steady rain last week with a total of about two inches. This is how the rain garden looked most of the day.
Shortly after the rain stopped, the water disappeared. Evidently the roots of the bald cypress tree (Taxodium distichum), swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), and other perennials help the rain soak into the ground about as fast as it collects.
In contrast to the wet, winter image looking up the ‘creek’, this is a view looking down the ‘creek’ on a dry, summer day. Note the bald cypress trunk to the left of the rock cairn. The pink blossoms in the background are swamp milkweed, a host plant for the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus).
I’m glad we listened to Stacy. I like the diversity of plants and animals the rain garden adds. Butterflies enjoy basking on the large rocks, and various ‘critters’ hide under them. And I’m pleased to know we’re keeping water out of the storm sewers.
For more information about rain gardens: