Rain gardens help protect our watershed by collecting stormwater, diverting it from washing pollutants into waterways.
Native gardener Meredith Koenig was elbow-deep in dirt last Wednesday afternoon. And that was just where she wanted to be. With her kneeling pad, garden gloves, and a trowel, Meredith, 84 years young (pictured at left), was busily planting iris versicolor and purple chokeberry at 108 South Seventh Street, home of the Vineland Historical Society.
At long last, the grounds of Vineland Historical and Antiquarian Society (VHAS) is home to a rain garden. The garden project started in March of this year, followed by an onsite visit in April. At that time, the plan was to locate the garden on the north side of the building. The board of trustees had concerns about the garden being located too close to the building’s foundation, so the garden’s location was moved to the south side of the building in a large open lot. Moving the location required a new engineering survey and plan, as well as another onsite visit from ANJEC, the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions. The association works on open space preservation and water resource protection. According to its website, a growing number of urban environmental commissions throughout the state are working with local officials to help revitalize their communities.
On October 3, the finished rain garden design was sent to the VHAS board of trustees by Hollie DiMuro, who works for the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Water Resources Program.
Just a month later, on November 2, the board received notification that due to a schedule change, there was an opening on November 13 for the rain garden installation. Although the turnaround time was quick, the board unanimously agreed to get it done.
The rain garden is 675 square feet and kidney-shaped. It will capture approximately 50,000 gallons of stormwater per year.
Rain gardens are specifically designed to manage stormwater runoff, mainly from rooftops, but also from driveways, lawns, roads, and parking lots. Rain gardens look like regular perennial gardens, but they are much more. During a storm, a rain garden fills with water, and the water slowly filters into the ground rather than running into storm sewers. Compared to a patch of lawn, a rain garden allows about 30 percent more water to soak into the ground. Therefore, by capturing stormwater, rain gardens help to reduce nonpoint source pollution (such as road sediment and salt, fertilizers, and grass clippings) and help to protect local waterways.
The landscape architect modified the original plans for the rain garden to reflect a Victorian aesthetic more suitable to the museum, which was built in 1910. The native plants chosen will provide nice color and textures in all seasons, particularly spring and summer.
Native plants are species that grow in a region without human introduction. Only plants found in New Jersey before European settlement are considered to be native here. They have evolved over thousands of years to be adapted to a variety of conditions in New Jersey and to the other plants and animals around them. The Native Plant Society of New Jersey has identified more than 2,000 native plant species in our state, many of them specific to our pinelands habitat.
Native plants are best adapted to our local climate and soil and have natural defenses to plant diseases, harmful insects, and other pests. A rain garden with native plants creates a new habitat for birds, butterflies, and other wildlife.
Dr. R. Alan Mounier, life member of the historical society and a professional archaeologist, was onsite observing the three-day project from the initial layout and excavation on Monday to the planting of perennials and grasses on Wednesday.
“It will be a wonderful addition to the landscape” stated Mounier.
Rutgers environmental engineer Allison Nevulis was busy planting perennials on Wednesday, the final day, and “fun” day of the installation.
“Rain gardens are great and this will be a beautiful garden” she stated.
Stay tuned for a colorful blossoming springtime!
Naomi Ingraldi is secretary of the Vineland Historical and Antiquarian Society Board of Trustees.
Open House at the Museum
The Vineland Historical and Antiquarian Society will host an open house on Saturday, December 2, as part of Vineland’s Old-Fashioned Christmas Celebration. The museum will be open from 4 to 7 p.m. with tours, snacks and a visit from Santa. The museum is located at 108 South Seventh Street in Vineland.
“The museum is a great place to visit. Sadly, it has been one of Vineland’s best-kept secrets,” said Val Neuber, president of the board of trustees. “Many of the events and actions of Vineland residents have had a national impact on history. We want current residents and visitors to learn about what has happened here.”
“We would also like to share future plans for the museum,” said Warren Crescenzo, vice-president. “Our goal is to build an additional 2,000 square feet to the existing museum. The plan is to add exhibit space, increase the space for presentations, and make the entire museum barrier-free, with an elevator and larger restrooms.”
Come early to the open house on December 2—before sunset—for a look at the museum’s new rain garden.
Free street and lot parking will be available, and the museum will also be a stop on Vineland’s trolley tour that day.