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Houston we have a problem!

Vince and his son Steve live along the west bank of the DuPage River in Warrenville, Illinois. Their house is well over a hundred yards from the river and at least 10 feet above the river level. In the Fall of 2008 we started our work for Vince by planting in the small grove of Oaks you see in the upper right of this photograph. There were several torrential rain storms after that. On this occassion the river actually rose and came into his basement windows and buckled his basement floor. On several more occasions, the rains again completely flooded the little grove and the plants we put in were completely submerged.

In the back of the house Vince had several sump pumps and downspouts which discharged into a buried drainpipe that carried this water to the river. The drainpipe became damaged or plugged up and would have cost $7,000 to repair. Our solution was to create a gently curved streambed from the house to a low basin-like area abetting the Oak grove which followed the natural contours of the land. This carried the water from the house to the basin turning it into a shaded rain garden.

This shows the streambed in late February of 2009.

Early June of 2009 shows the streambed, rain garden and grove. Although the earlier floods did some damage to our plantings, most everything in the woods came back.

Here we are in late April 2011. The stream and rain garden are completely filled with runoff, and you can see the swollen river in the background.

Being an adventurous soul, Vince had us plant the back of the house. Here in early June 2009 we are putting in a decorative split rail fence which we found at another site. The stream bisects this garden bed and you can see a flat stepping stone to help Vince cross the streambed.

Vince's wise judgement paid off. Only a year later, in late September 2010, the garden is up and looking good. Updated photos of the back yard will be found under Gardens For Sunny Places.

Two flowers that love the wet habitat of the rain garden and streambed are the Southern Blue Flag Iris (left), Iris virginica shrevei, shown here is early June 2011 and Marsh Marigold (right), Caltha palustris, a short plant that likes sun or shade shown mid April 2011.

The rain garden is set in a fairly shady area. Two highly regarded decorative ferns go very well there. The Royal Fern (left), Osmunda regalis, and the Cinnamon Fern (right), Osmunda cinnamonea, shown here in early June 2011.

Here is the stream in mid August 2011. You can see the red Cardinal Flower, Lobelia cardinalis, popping up in the middle of the stream (left) and the lush garden at the back of the house around the stepping stone and the streambed on the right.

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