Garden for a rainy day

papavers 01This morning’s garden had two poppy flowers and a lot of rain. Which got me started on the idea of a garden with rain as its defining feature – a garden that is best during or just after a shower – a garden that celebrates wetness. I haven’t seen a garden made for rain in garden books yet, so it might be novel. Also, it would make sense of our wet climate.

Such a garden would need a strong structure, so beech hedges, and hawthorn for topiary – an idea I picked up in Sweden. Lots of stone – walls, walks, statuary – with mosses and lichen. Clematis and honeysuckle to climb them, also climbing hydrangea and wisteria. The other hydrangeas for summer, they love wet conditions and their colors sparkle. Elders of every kind and description. And butterfly bushes – these are sun-lovers, really, but they look especially good after rain. The butterflies we’ll have to overlook.  Lots of gravel paths to glisten when wet and dry quickly when not.

Water features powered by rainfall are must-haves: let’s go all out and have a few spectacular gargoyles, Álso water sounds from fountains, cascades,  streams and springs. For still water we’ll do bird bath, pond, pool, wetland area.  Add a few trees to drip water after the rain has stopped. A covered walk, and sheltered places to sit. Maybe a grotto? Water surface at eye level somewhere to watch the raindrops  – ever noticed they dance? Or even better: a hot water tub to go sit in and be part of the raindrop dance. Tub would steam invitingly, too. And how about an artificial mist generator for sunny days? I saw one in a book about australian gardens ….

Then plants, of course. Poppies should be in this garden, as should lady’s mantle [alchemillia vulgaris] which is prettiest when wet. A few ornamental grasses, garlanded with raindrops. And lots of bamboo!  Rain on bamboo makes a lovely sound, the most soothing sound I know. So for my rain garden, it’s in. Ivy for ground cover, also ferns , they love moisture and are prettiest when wet. Lilly-of -the-valley, snowdrops and hellebores for spring, also botanical tulips and daffodils. Fritillarias as they thrive in wet meadows. Bleeding hearts are doubly effective when waterdrops hang off them. Foxglove, lungworth, welsh poppy, policeman’s helmet, pokeweed, japanese anemones (the white ones), sedum. And we really cannot overlook love-in-a-mist now, can we? For plants in pots, we’ll have begonias and impatiens and fuchsia’s.

No roses or peonies -they droop most unattractively – nor any plant that needs to be tied up or staked. No asters, they mildew. No asters anyway. No plants that are favorites of snails and slugs. None that remind us of sunnier climates: geraniums, rock roses, thyme, lavender. Need I say that sunflowers would be singularly inappropriate?

Wiki has ‘rain garden’ – a planted depression or a hole that allows rainwater runoff from  urban areas, like roofs, driveways, walkways, parking lots, and compacted lawn areas, the opportunity to be absorbed. That isn’t what my rain garden is about, so I may have to find another name. Shower garden? Mist garden? Wet garden? Drizzle garden? Cloudburst garden? Rain-proof garden? Nebulous garden? Damp-day garden? Aquatic garden? Meditation garden? Garden for a rainy day?

I googled English, and got Beth Chatto’s the damp garden – a book dealing with gardening on damp ground. Damp ground being an obstacle to be overcome, or a situation to be worked with. Of course in my rain garden damp would be a bonus.

I googled Dutch, and  found a pretty-in-the-rain garden in the Netherlands here.  I don’t think this garden designer made the most of his opportunities – it is a garden that can withstand rain, but does not celebrate it.

Later: we’ll have to include a teahouse of viewing pavillion that holds a bookcase crammed with garden books. For rainy days.

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