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Archive for the ‘rain garden’ Category

Heritage Park Rain Garden 3.jpg

A rain garden is a bowl-shaped depression designed as a garden to capture, hold, and absorb rainwater. Rain gardens slow the flow of rainwater from roofs, sidewalks, streets, parking lots, and other impervious surfaces, allowing the water to penetrate the soil. (more…)

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monet iris

From the name of a greek goddess, to its use by Claude Monet within his famous garden and paintings, and further to its popular status as a diverse horticultural variety or cultivar, the Iris has widespread play within our culture and (more importantly) our natural world.

According to Correll and Correll (the authority on the aquatic and wetland plants of Southwestern US), there are “more than 200 species in the Northern Hemisphere.”  We are lucky enough to have several native Iris species within our region, including Iris virginica, Iris brevicaulis, and Iris fulva.  Both Iris virginica and Iris brevicaulis have the typical blue-purple and gold color pattern, whereas Iris fulva is distinctively coppery red in color and equally attractive.  It is worth noting that our one unfortunate invasive Iris (Iris pseudacorus, which is native to Europe, western Asia and northwest Africa)  has a large bright yellow flower, and reproduces rapidly via rhizomes and seeds, and we must be aware of this noxious invader.  Slide1

My first encounter with Irises came as a SCA/Americorps intern at San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge.  Driving around Moccasin pond, I marveled at the pretty Iris blooms along the pond edge, intermingled with the native Canna (Canna glauca).  The pond was teeming with life and flowers.  Later, I took my godmother and my mom on a similar tour around the pond, and they also enjoyed the floral display (as well as the sunbathing gators strewn over the road edges).

As part of my restoration work at Sheldon Lake State Park and other sites around Galveston Bay, I have used only the two “blue” species–Iris virginica and Iris brevicaulis.  Each species is specific to a region and habitat….where I. virginica can handle some salinity (fresh to brackish tidal conditions) and the coastal soils, I. brevicaulis finds its niche within the partial shady edges of forests.   These showy natives bloom late spring to early summer, but their bright green to silvery green foliage can remain year-round.  They are both considered obligate wetland plants making them ideal for wetland restoration in their appropriate place within the natural landscape.

When spring returns to our area early next year, be sure to seek out and admire these classic flowering wetland natives.  panoramic photo iris

 

 

 

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school

Recently I had the opportunity to tell 115 young people about what  is most important to me in my work to support water quality and wetlands. The kids and their teachers had insightful questions. One of them was: What can kids do to make sure the water is healthy for us and the animals that depend on it? (more…)

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We are working with the City of League City on a very exciting and ground breaking project, the Ghiardi WaterSmart Park.  This Park is currently under construction on Louisiana Avenue in League City, Galveston County, Texas. Scheduled for completion next month, this space is much more than just a park.  The 3.75 acre neighborhood space has a pavilion, walking trails and a playground.  It also has special features including rain gardens, a cistern to collect rain water for irrigation, a green roof on the pavilion and WaterSmart landscapes.  The park is also home to the 100+ year old Ghirardi Oak tree that was relocated during the reconstruction of Louisiana Avenue in 2012.

P1010092 - CopyCrew moving the 100+ year old Ghirardi oak tree.

The Ghirardi WaterSmart Park design is based on the three principles of WaterSmart Landscapes: water conservation, water quality and habitat for wildlife.  These three elements are integrated with typical park features to create a unique and water conserving park. (more…)

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Heron-small

A Yellow-crowned Night Heron stalks the new wetland on the grounds of the Johnson Space Center.

Visiting the Johnson Space Center (JSC), you probably anticipate a vision of a high tech future in space.  But to address a more down-to-earth aspect of the space center’s operation, Chris LaChance and I were invited to NASA by Sandy Parker of the JSC Environmental Office to consult on transforming a landscape problem area from boggy lawn to JSC’s first created wetland.

The JSC landscape maintenance contractor, Prodyn EPES, needed a way to deal with the water that pooled in a low spot between a weather station building, parking lots, and a jogging trail. It tended to be too wet to mow, so something else had to be done—and done on a tight budget. At about 2200 square feet, it was too large to be economically practical as a rain garden, which can sometimes require considerable excavation, an underdrain, porous soils, and a selection of predominantly nursery-raised native plants. Chris thought the site had more potential as a created wetland, so she brought me along on the mission.

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