A Cape Cod Rain Garden – Part I The Structure

We installed a rain garden and slope planting in November of 2011 on Cape Cod. Scroll down to see how the garden evolved over the course of 2 years.

Rain Garden Before 1

The problem area was at the bottom of a very steep slope and was in the middle of the property’s main view toward Cape Cod Bay. The client doesn’t use that area of lawn, and wanted to fill it with seasonal interest that would be visible from the deck and the upper stories of the house.

Rapoza Rain Garden SketchThe design concept was to add a a dry river bed topped with beach stones, and a few boulders for accent. The stone river bed catches water as it flows down the slope. The rest of the area was filled with native grasses, shrubs and wildflowers. We also under-planted the existing dogwoods on the slope with liriope muscari to give the trees more definition.

Installing the accent BouldersPaul, Daniel and Thomas installing the accent boulders.

Rain Garden Construction 1 This is what it looked like right after installation in November 2011.

Rain Garden first year's growth 2012By the following summer, the new plants were thriving.

Rapoza Cape Cod Garden 4After another full growing season, the area had filled in very well and had become a hotspot for birds, butterflies and bumblebees. This photo was taken in the summer of 2013.

Stay tuned for more about the rain garden plants we selected.

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Signs of Life

After a long and snowy winter here on Cape Cod, we are finally seeing signs of life! We caught these bulbs and perennials popping up in Falmouth this week. If you want early spring color, consider planting some of these in your garden:

Crocus

Crocus

A universal sign of spring, nothing is more cheerful than the crocuses. Plant the bulbs in fall and these bursts of color will reward you repeatedly year after year.

Sedum

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’

This succulent brings color to a garden for 3 full seasons, its slowly changing colors truly reflecting the ephemeral nature of a garden. In the spring, its bright green leaves brighten up flower beds. By late spring and early summer it has pretty white buds that change from light pink to dark pink flowers throughout the summer. By fall the blossoms are a vibrant burgundy. Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ is extremely drought tolerant, and hardy. Though it prefers full sun we’ve seen it thriving in some shady parts of the garden.

 

Hellebore_pink frost

Helleborus Gold Collection ‘Pink Frost’

Some of our Hellebores have already been blooming for months, even in the snow. This one is a called ‘Pink Frost’. Put them in your shade garden or near your front door where they will perk up even the dreariest winter landscape.

Snowdrops

Galanthus (Snowdrops)

The delicate ballerina-like flowers of Galanthus are perfect for a woodland garden. Plant them with lily of the valley for a carpet of green and white all spring.

A Woodland Nook in Progress

Woodland Nook 7

A New Woodland Sitting Nook

We recently created an informal sitting area in the margin of woods between a residence, a sloping meadow, and a path through the woods. The residents wanted a place to sit and enjoy the shade in the summer months. Here is a quick photo tour showing how the shady woodland nook fell into place.

Recently cleared wooded area

Recently Cleared Wooded Area

The existing wooded area was first cleared of invasive understory shrubs and vines, and a few dead trees were removed.

Woodland_nook_1

Creating a Level Area

Once the vegetation was cleared, we needed to create a level sitting area. We re-graded the bumpy spots and added some clean fill.

Woodland_nook_5

Building a Rustic Retaining Wall

We constructed a rustic boulder retaining wall on the lower edge of the sitting place.

Setting the Stones into Place

When the retaining wall was complete, we added good planting soil/compost mix, and raked it smooth. Then we set irregular bluestone in place, keeping the joints far enough apart for mosses and other ground cover to be installed later.

Woodland_nook_4

Laying out the Irregular Bluestone

Now the Woodland Nook is ready for some shade loving plants to fill in the blanks. Add a few Adirondack chairs, and it will be a great respite from the summer sun. We’ll add more photographs when the planting is complete!

woodland nook 8

Sitting Area Ready for Planting