Here’s how the rain garden design evolved over two years, from sketches to plants in the ground. Because of the site, all the plants need to tolerate occasional flooding and enjoy wet or damp soil. They thrive in filtered shade, with only about four hours of direct sunlight during the long days of June. The original design used all native plants except for the irises.
I used Photoshop to make the drawing, using circles sized to show the room needed for mature plants and roughly the color of the flowers. Debbie Roos taught me the technique of starting with the plants you want the most, then adding layers to provide interest in all seasons. I assigned plants to Photoshop layers representing each season plus year-round to make it easy to see the bloom cycles. Debbie also emphasized planting in groups to minimize travel distance for pollinators, which is why most plants are in groups of three or five.
Current Rain Garden Design as of May 2022
Some native plants turned out to be hard to get, so we chose others. Justin Durango persuaded me to plant tropical Dutchman’s-pipe vines in several places, including the rain garden, to feed glorious pipevine swallowtail butterflies. He said they eat this smaller tropical vine as well as the huge native.
My original design didn’t take advantage of the sloped sides of the rain garden, which stay relatively damp but don’t flood. I was able to tuck in several smaller plants there. I also couldn’t resist adding in a few crinum and tropical gingers that I already had. Friends gave me atamasca lilies and rain ferns. Yaay!
I did the drawing above with Excalidraw, which is ultra-easy to learn, free, and also works as a whiteboard for collaboration. Whoo-hoo! I can’t use Photoshop anymore because Adobe decided my computer is too small for their newer releases.
Current Rain Garden Plant List as of May 2022
The following table is sorted by planting date and then by common name.
|chocolate Joe Pye weed
|Eupatorium rugosa ‘Chocolate’
|Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’
|white-veined Dutchman’s pipe
|Cupid Culver’s root
|Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Cupid’
|pink crinum, unknown variety
|Palace Purple coral bells
|Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’
|Plymouth rose gentian
|swamp rose mallow
The rain garden is probably more than full of plants. I expect to take out the Virginia spiderwort as other plants begin to fill in because it does well across the path on the pond slope. The blueberry bush that I thought had perished came back to life this spring, so the butterfly ginger may move again to make room.