Learning about Natives and Rain Gardens

During my Penn State Master Gardener training, my fellow trainees and I had the opportunity to participate a variety of group projects.  Our assignments included working with Burgh Bees on establishing a pollinator friendly garden on their site in Homewood, learning about and installing a native plant garden at Point State Park in downtown Pittsburgh, and learning about and delivering presentations about designing, installing and painting rain gardens and how they contribute to stormwater management.

The project I really wanted to be on was learning about an planting a Western Pennsylvanian native plant garden at Point State. My secondary choice, which I got to work on was rain gardens and storm water management. Luckily, rain gardens are most often planted with native plants as they are more adopted to fluctuations in wet and dry periods.

Over the next few months in addition to our standard weekly classes, the project course work focused on the following four general topics:

  • Green Solutions to Stormwater Impacts in Our Communities
  • Capturing Rain Where it Falls: Designing Rain Gardens
  • Planting a Rain Garden
  • Capturing Rainfall: Installing and Using Rain Barrels

I was hooked. The way I looked at it, this was the combination of the best of two worlds. I learned about rain gardens and how they fit into overall storm water management practices, as well as native plants and to use them in an urban garden setting. While rain gardens using native plants provide double the benefits, one could always plant their gardens by incorporating natives and still get the benefits of attracting and supporting pollinators, including bees and butterflies in their garden.

In return for an in-depth learning experience, our group delivered presentations on these topics to the general public at two local farms. It felt great to educate and empower others regarding the power rain gardens and native plants came make in their own backyards and communities. Following these presentations, I received a number of follow-up invites by local garden clubs to present for them as well. I will share some of those engagements soon.