Rise of a Rain Garden

In the span of just a few hours, Collingswood's Scottish Rite Auditorium gets a new rain garden.

It started early, just before 8 a.m., on a nippy Tuesday at the Scottish Rite Auditorium grounds. As the wind bit at their hands, gardeners from Brickman Landscaping and Jerry Chambers clutched plans and surveyed the bare patch of grass.

Within hours, that patch would be transformed into a . But first, the landscapers and Chambers, director of Collingswood Foundation for Arts, needed to pick a definitive spot.

“If we tilt it this way, the trees will frame it,” Chambers mused. “And if we move it a bit that way, the rain water will flow down.”

A tweak here and there, and the spot was selected. Within minutes, workers had delineated the area with spray paint and plunged shovels into the ground. The next few hours were filled with digging trenches, plowing the garden and adding a variety of flowers, trees and grasses. A river birch tree mixed with inkberry holly, goldenrod, red switchgrass and more.

By the afternoon, the new rain garden already attracted birds and a curious squirrel. As the plants grow, the vegetation will become more lush and showcase beautiful foliage. But the point of the rain garden is what can’t be readily seen—to collect and manage stormwater runoff, protecting nearby areas and filtering water.

The garden is the first of several that will be installed around Collingswood ahead of the April 21 Collingswood Green Festival. Residents can learn more about rain gardens, including how to build their own, at the festival.

Funding for the rain garden came from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

“It just makes sense,” Chambers said of the garden. “It’s simple, it’s beautiful and it’s environmentally friendly. I hope they take off in town.”


Editor's note: This story was updated on April 18 to change the funding source from Rutgers University to the NJ Department of Environmental Protection. 

Karen Chigounis March 28, 2012 at 01:25 PM
It's beautiful and will contribute so much to the recovery of storm water. We're looking forward to the rain gardens coming soon to Perkins Center for the Arts on Irvin Avenue and at Zane North Elementary. We hope friends will come and help with the planting!
Lauren Burgoon March 28, 2012 at 05:42 PM
A reader emailed us this comment, including a link to other rain garden examples, if you want to see what our neighbors to (way) west are doing: Very nice rain garden story. Here is what one neighborhood in Puyallup, WA did with theirs http://raindogdesigns.com/wordpress/?page_id=1877
Geoff DiMasi March 29, 2012 at 11:25 AM
This is really fantastic. What an honor to be picked to receive these rain gardens in Collingswood.
RCEWaterResourcesPgm April 09, 2012 at 03:42 PM
This demonstration rain garden at the Scottish Rite Auditorium is part of the Cooper River Stormwater Education and Implementation Project, funded by a grant from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. To learn more about this project and about rain gardens, please check out: http://www.water.rutgers.edu/Projects/Cooper/CooperRiver.html


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