During my internship for Sea Grant I have been fortunate to not only learn about rain gardens but also be able to see one garden come to life. I saw the area beforehand, while the garden was built, and after the final flower was planted. I saw the change in the landscape. I sat under a tree just next to where the garden is today. I had the opportunity to speak with park experts to gain more insight in what it took to build the garden. But above all, I have been able to see the beauty of the garden as it grew.
The idea of planting a rain garden in Clark Park in Champaign began in September of 2014 when presented during a John Street watershed meeting. This led to a three-month-long period in which different designs were presented to the community. The final design was presented at a public meeting in February. Unfortunately the actual digging did not start until mid-June and the planting was not finished until July. This was due to excessive rain, ironically, and the maintenance of other park amenities such as pools, and tennis courts.
When I recently went to visit the garden, it was very rewarding to see how much it had grown. Even if I was not personally involved in making the garden a reality for this park, it was rewarding to see what can happen when there is a community willing to be involved as well as a park district willing to make this a reality. It didn’t matter that not all the flowers bloomed this season or that the flowers didn’t grow as much as they could have. I could see what the garden was bringing to the community. It was an environmentally conscious way of collecting water, attracted wildlife and added texture to the park.