There is a new rain garden in the trailhead parking lot in Madison, and soon there will be a new Eagle Scout in Guilford. For his Eagle project Guilford Boy Scout Eric Weidman successfully sought donations of plant materials from a variety of sources. Clinton Nurseries and Susan Conlan donated trees and shrubbery, Hammonasset Park provided mulch, and Van Wilgen’s offered a discount. He marshaled a small army of other scouts, friends, and family, and finally in two and a half hours on Father’s Day Eric and his team planted the garden, a spectacular accomplishment!
Landscape architect Barbara Yaeger volunteered to mentor Eric as he worked on his project. The design for the rain garden was created by Yaeger in collaboration with Madison Director of Public Works and Town Engineer Mike Ott, who volunteered to design the parking lot.
What is a rain garden and why have one in the parking lot, you might ask. Rainwater washing across a parking lot carries a variety of pollutants such as fertilizer, bacteria, debris, toxic chemicals, and other substances. In addition, fresh water pouring into the salt marsh alters the salinity and threatens the survival of the marsh.
For our rain garden Yaeger selected plants for their ability to tolerate wetness after storms and dryness during intervals between storms. When it rains, water from the lot runs into the rain garden catching sediment, pollutants, and bacteria before they get to the nearby salt marsh. As the storm water filters through the soil, it is mostly absorbed by the plants while they take up nitrogen and phosphorus as well.
So next time you park in the trailhead parking lot at Hammonasset Park, be sure to take note of the beauty and the science of the rain garden.