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Rain Garden offers more than beauty

July 25, 2012 - If you've noticed a few extra blooms in Depot Park, you might be looking at the Wild Ones' Rain Garden. It's more than just a pretty spot, however.

"It's helping to manage parking lot run off, filtering, and taking out salt in the storm water," said Jim Breuck, president of the North Oakland Wild Ones.

While the beauty of the purple, white, and yellow flowers makes walking in the park more enjoyable, it's the beauty you can't see that the Wild Ones hope people notice.

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," said Breuck.

Rain gardens like the one in downtown Clarkston improve water quality and support biodiversity by attracting pollinators like bees and butterflies.

Due to its use of native plants, the rain garden "welcomes natural wildlife," Brueck explained.

For instance, cup plants with yellow flowers shaped like sunbursts "hold water, which feeds insects, butterflies, hummingbirds," said Wild Ones vice president Trish Hennig.

"Their leaves are staggered, which maximizes the water" the cup plants can hold, Hennig said.

Native fauna growing in the rain garden like Swamp Milkweed, Boneset, and Culver's Root offer similar services to local bugs.

It isn't just buzzing insects and birds that gain from the Wild Ones' garden, however. The filtrated water running through the Rain Garden flows into the stream in the park and eventually into the Clinton River chain, said Brueck.

The cleaner water improves groundwater, which is advantageous for many Michiganders whose faucets are connected to underground wells.

Fortunately, rain gardens aren't only for parks. People can grown native plants and filter water in their own backyards by planting near their rain gutters or along their shorelines.

Rain gardens can come in a variety of shapes and sizes; they "don't have to be tall" like the Depot Park garden, said Wild Ones' Lola Koch.

"You can grow lower plants" to keep your garden short. Depending on the plants, a rain garden can be grown in the shade too.

After watching their Rain Garden grow since 2006 and winning the Keep Michigan Beautiful Award in 2010, the Wild Ones are thinking of planting flowers and more in other places downtown.

For instance, they'd like to expand the work they've done around Clarkston's Mill Pond through shoreline restoration and adding pathways and benches. To find out more go to

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