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Flood tolerant rain gardens

By garden designer Alice Bowe. A lot is being written about the effects of our changing climate on the way we garden.  Simply search for 'drought tolerant planting' on the internet and you will be swamped with plant lists and information.  A far larger concern for me as a garden designer is the brutally damaging effect of flash floods and heavy rainfall.

Rain gardens can be included in sustainable garden designs as a way of managing flash floods and excessive rainfall.

Essentially, a rain garden is a planted depression that is designed to absorb rainwater runoff from impervious surfaces such as paving and driveways. They are of particular importance in urban garden designs where the proportion of impermeable surface is likely to be higher than in rural areas.

In times of heavy rainfall, the water is directed into these depressions, swales and gullies - where the stormwater soaks into the ground. Rain gardens can significantly reduce surface erosion and can successfully manage problem areas in gardens - such as lawns that regularly to flood.

Planting a rain garden requires specialist plant knowledge because the plants need to be able to cope with wetland conditions, flooding (often for several days whilst the water is soaking into the ground) and drought! Here are some planting suggestions:

Flood tolerant planting suggestions

Deschampsia cespitosa
Arundo donax
Cornus sanguinea
Salix caprea
Iris pseudacorus
Lythrum salicaria
Taxodium distichums
Alnus rubra
Betula nigra
Liquidambar styraciflua

Flood tolerant plants can be a useful tool in contemporary planting and garden designs so go on, include some of these super plants in your garden this year and be prepared to gloat when extreme weather attacks.

By Alice Bowe

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