Guest Blog by Bryan Porten-Willson, TTF intern
Protecting and maintaining our waterways is an important responsibility. Humans and animals alike depend on clean water to stay healthy. Fortunately, there are several strategies we can use to accomplish our goal of keeping our waterways clean. One such strategy is the planting of rain gardens, and on Saturday, November 11, we did precisely this! TTF already had planted a creekside buffer at Ethel Jordan Park, but wanted to add a rain garden in order to capture and filter the runoff coming from the surrounding parking lots and rooftops. A crew from Roofmeadow Services joined us for the planting in order to lend a hand and to set up marking posts to protect the garden as it grows.
My name’s Bryan, and the recent planting of the rain garden at Ethel Jordan Park marked my first time volunteering with TTF. I graduated from Temple University in the winter of 2012 with a B.S. in Biology, during which time I was planning to attend optometry school. Although I was accepted to Salus University in Elkins Park, I soon found that optometry wasn’t for me, and wanted to find another way to make use of my academic achievements and interest in the Biological Sciences. Ever since I was a kid, I always felt curious about things like where my food came from, what the minnows in the stream nearby my house did during winter-time, and how different forms of pollution affect wildlife—questions that are best addressed by experts in environmental fields. I got in touch with Doryán at TTF to see how I could get more involved, and she suggested I start with this rain-garden project to gain some experience. Though I hadn’t really done much planting or gardening before, the people at TTF answered all my questions and made me feel right at home as I worked alongside them.
Rain gardens are designed to absorb and filter runoff from heavy storms. When constructing a rain garden, it is important to pick plants that will survive in wet conditions. For this rain-garden, TTF chose Irises, Marsh Ferns, Chokeberries, Asters, Shrubs, Rushes, and Cardinal flowers. I’m told that many of these plants will look quite beautiful in the springtime, especially the ones that flower, and I look forward to visiting the rain garden again to see it in bloom.
In addition to planting the rain garden that day, we also established a bioswale, which is similar in function to a rain garden, but is specifically designed to divert and collect water from a paved roadway. When we were planting the bioswale, we had to watch where we were stepping because over-compacted soil can impact a plant’s ability to spread its roots.
I am grateful to be a part of this experience– projects like these will help improve our waterways and our communities. I think the more we can incorporate these strategies into our urbanized landscape, the better chance we have of keeping a good balance between ourselves and the surrounding environment.