Panorama West Rain Garden is Growing

Informational signs were installed near the Panorama West rain garden in early August. The main sign describes how rain gardens help protect water quality of nearby lakes and streams. It also shows some of the native plants used in the rain garden, and recognizes groups involved in the project.

By Susan Thompson

Planting a rain garden in a summer that offered more drought than rain isn’t the best way to guarantee success. But thanks to dedicated volunteers who have kept the garden watered, weeds pulled, and deer mostly at bay, the rain garden at Panorama West is doing well.

The garden was installed June 10 along the east side of the Panorama West clubhouse parking lot. Rain gardens are made up of perennial plants and are strategically located to capture runoff from rain that falls on parking lots, roofs, driveways and yards.

The project was sponsored by Friends of Lake Panorama, a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity dedicated to improving recreational amenities at Lake Panorama.

In early August, an informational sign was installed near the garden to explain how rain gardens help improve water quality. Runoff that travels to a rain garden is temporarily ponded. Plants in the garden use the water, pollutants are filtered out, and the water percolates down through the soil, rather than running into streets and storm drains.

The Panorama West rain garden features 170 native plants in a dozen different varieties. The sign shows the names and photos of eight varieties, plus the Friends website address where details on all 12 plant varieties can be seen.

The cost of this project was about $2,500. In December 2016, the Guthrie County Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioners approved an application from Friends for $1,250 in cost-share funding for the rain garden. These funds were made available through Iowa’s Resource Enhancement and Protection program, better known as REAP.

Derek Namanny, an urban conservationist with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, designed the rain garden and provided assistance throughout the process. The Lake Panorama Association provided site preparation assistance, and installed the new sign. Fifteen volunteers, including several members of the Panora Garden Club, helped plant and water.

Some plants in the garden have bloomed already, but it will take two to three years for the garden to flourish. That’s because native plants first establish deep root systems, before substantial growth happens above ground.