|Thursday Tips: Making Rain Gardens More Attractive|
|Written by Heleigh Bostwick Thursday, 12 June 2008|
Rain gardens serve a utilitarian purpose, but as one Daily Dirt reader wrote in, how can we make them look less “weedy”? It’s a good question and she’s right, rain gardens often do look weedy. Why is this? I think it’s mainly because of the types of plants that are used. And, let’s be honest here, even though I might think so, a garden full of cattails, sedges like the Cyperus gracilis or miniature papyrus growing out of this birdbath, and rushes is probably not most people’s idea of a beautiful garden.
There are a couple of solutions to the problem. Many of rain gardens are planted with native plants that are less showy than typical perennial garden flowers so one solution is to change the plant material. In other words, it’s a matter of choosing plant material with more flowers and less foliage. This rain garden is a good example. Many beautiful and colorful flowers will tolerate wet feet including cardinal flower, swamp milkweed, prairie blazing star (a relative of the spotted blazing star), blue vervain, giant coneflower, goldenrods, monkey flower, and several ferns such as lady fern, cinnamon fern, sensitive fern and maidenhair ferns.
Another solution is to surround the rain garden with a colorful perennial border where the soil is less wet. It doesn’t have to be a circular border; it can be along the back edge of the rain garden or even a “U-shape” around three sides to frame the rain garden. A third solution is to accept that the rain garden is going to look less of a garden (i.e. neat in appearance) and more like a flowering meadow, which is what most rain gardens really are--a wet meadow. The picture above is a good example of this concept.
Photo sources: www.gardenforglobalwarming.co.uk