Randalls Island Park Alliance

Let it rain, let it rain!

In New Ideas and Expansions on January 11, 2012 at 4:14 pm

By Phyllis Odessey

We don’t garden in a floodplain, but sometimes it feels that way.  The stormwater runoff from the RFK Bridge onto Randall’s Island can be overwhelming, especially if you are a gardener.  There are couple of ways to deal with a situation like this:  bemoan your fate or embrace it.

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I think the best way to deal with a challenge is to see it as a chance to be creative. The berm at the  north end of Icahn Stadium is sloped and extremely close to several downspouts from the RFK Bridge.  We’ve tried a couple of different horticulture experiments and none have worked.

The solution was obvious, but it took a while for us to get there:  A RAIN GARDEN.  We tossed around some concepts and asked Wayken Shaw to draw up a design.  Having a plan is always a good idea.  It makes a fantasy much closer to being a reality.

The planting concept (see drawing below) transitions from Zone 1 to Zone 2 to Zone 3.  Zone 1 is most natural and steepest zone, containing plants like Hamamelis vernalis and Viburnum dentatum.  Zone 2 is transitional, adding edible and medicinal plants:  Aronia, Cephalanthus and Vaccinium.  Zone 3 is the big bang:  More formal, yet more colorful.  Fothergilla, Cornus Sericea and Rhododendrons and Azaleas.

We don’t know when the rain garden will become a reality.  And we don’t care.  It’s enough to dream about it, at least for right now.

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