RAIN GARDENS AND PLANTS THAT LOOK GREAT IN THE RAIN
I have yet to find a book about rain gardens. When I Googled the subject, I found the following explanation at www.westmichiganraingardens.com
“A rain garden is an attractive landscaping feature planted with perennial native plants. It is a bowl-shaped or saucer-shaped garden, designed to absorb storm water run-off from impervious surfaces such as roofs and parking lots…Government studies have shown that up to 70% of the pollution in our streams, rivers and lakes is carried there by stormwater. Although most people never think about storm water, about half of the pollution that storm water carries comes from things we do in our yards and gardens!”
This is something I must consider. My house was built on a lot sloping down to a creek. It would make ecological sense to build a rain garden at the edge of the lowest part of the slope, below the area once known as The Selfish Garden. That is the space I reserved for myself alone. Visitors were allowed in by invitation only and no unkind words could be uttered within the privet walls. I have pretty much abandoned that space though occasionally I check to see if the Japanese fern and wild ginger still grow there. The white bleeding heart and white daylily I planted there years ago have been eaten by deer, but the fern and ginger endure.
The Selfish Garden is the perfect location for the rain garden I had in mind–a place filled with plants that look particularly beautiful during and after a rain. This differs from the gardens described above in that their function is more ornamental than environmentally beneficial. Granted, most gardens benefit the environment, but my aim was to put together a collection of conifers, bergenia, brunnera, maples and the all time champion of rain loving plants–alchemilla mollis. Green Gardens, in Oregon, offers a large selection of maples as well as plants suited for bonsai. The latter are excellent candidates for the contemplative garden I want to make. I intend for it to include as many shades of green as possible and I will include textures that showcase raindrops. Conifers such as Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Fernspray Gold’ seem ideal for the job. So do Acer palmatum ‘Fairyhair,’ bergenia Bressingham White, brunnera, the more delicate ferns such as Athyrium Niponicum ‘Red Beauty.’