April showers bring May flowers, but they can also bring stormwater runoff. With a little effort and planning, though, those flowers can help to stem runoff when planted in a rain garden. It is estimated that a rain garden can absorb 30 percent more water than a conventional lawn of the same size. Rain gardens help to soak up the water, filtering and removing some of the excess fertilizers before they reach the Bay. By reducing the total amount of water that enters storm drains, rain gardens also help to prevent flooding and shoreline erosion. Here is a list of rain garden plants. Can you match them with their descriptions?
Bottle Brush Grass
Eastern Purple Coneflower
St. John’s Wort
1. This bright green, shade- loving plant has lacy fronds. It appears in early summer and grows about a foot high, or lower. Biologists have discovered what is believed to be mistletoe DNA in this plant’s mitochondria.
2. This plant, which grows in all sun conditions, gets its name from its long floral spike of white flowers, which bloom from June to August. The stalks, themselves, stay upright into fall. It grows 30–60 inches tall. It has been known to attract rabbits and deer.
3. This evergreen shrub, which grows in all sun conditions, has small, greenish white flowers that are either male (growing clusters) or female (solitary) that bloom from May to June. Its small dark fruit, which appears in September and lasts through March. It is very popular with songbirds, small mammals and waterfowl.
4. The showy yellow flowers of this sun-loving plant bloom in dense, flat-topped clusters from July to September. Its brown capsule seed is present October to April, and is eaten by songbirds, small mammals and waterfowl.
5. This plant has a brown cone center surrounded by a ray of yellow petals that bloom from June to October in sunny to partly sunny areas. This state flower of Maryland attracts butterflies, songbirds and beneficial insects.
6. Lavender ray petals surround the brownish cone of this flower, which blooms from April to September in sunny areas. It attracts butterflies and bees.
7. This evergreen shrub can grow 12–20 feet tall and will thrive in all sun/shade areas. Its white or pink flowers bloom May to July and produces a brown seed capsule. These seeds are eaten by songbirds and small mammals. Its foliage is poisonous to hoofed animals.
8. This plant, which grows 1–3 feet tall, prefers a sunny to partly sunny spot. It produces a crown of small showy orange flowers that bloom June to September and attracts butterflies and beneficial insects.
How do these gardens grow?
To learn about other species or how to create a rain garden, visit these sites:
- Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay: BayScapes Program / Bay-friendly landscaping. http://stormwater.allianceforthebay.org/take-action/structural-bmps/rain-gardens/.
- Chesapeake Bay Foundation: Instructions for building a rain garden. (www.cbf.org/document.doc?id=1561)
- Chesapeake Conservation Landscaping Council: Conservation-based landscaping practices. www.chesapeakelandscape.org.
- Landscape For Life: Technical tools for those who design, build and maintain landscapes using the The Sustainable Sites Initiative. www.landscapeforlife.org.
- Plant More Plants: Personal stewardship campaign by the Chesapeake Club encourages consumers to take action in their own backyards. www.plantmoreplants.com.
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: BayScapes Program / Bay-friendly landscaping. www.fws.gov/chesapeakebay/bayscapes.htm.
- The Rainscaping Campaign: Instructions for installing rain gardens, rain barrels and native plants. www.rainscaping.org.
1. Rattlesnake Fern
2. Bottle Brush Grass
4. St. John’s Wort
5. Black-eyed Susan
6. Eastern Purple Coneflower
7. Mountain Laurel