What’s a Rain Garden? FAQs for the Northwest Gardener

by Janaki Kilgore of Wonder-Flora Landscape Design

As inspired by our upcoming Rain Gardens 101 class this Saturday, July 25 at 9am, Janaki Kilgore of Wonder-Flora Landscape Design gives a FAQ for the Northwest Gardener on what rain gardens can do for you. Call (360)676-5480 to register or online here.

Photo Cred: Wonder-Flora Landscape Design

Photo Cred: Wonder-Flora Landscape Design

What are rain gardens and swales?
They are landscape features designed to direct rainfall, allowing it to soak into the ground and grow plants

Why build rain gardens?
Plants and soil work together to filter and store stormwater before it can quickly wash away, reducing pollutants flowing into our waterways

Locate rain gardens below where rainfall flows off roofs, driveways and other impervious surfaces and at least ten feet from buildings

How to do it?

  • Make a plan: choose the site, test the soil percolation, determine rain garden size
  • Work when the soil is dry and avoid compaction!
  • Use earth moving equipment or digging forks and shovels to shape the land
  • Mix sand and compost into native soil, or replace with ‘ bioretention’ soil
  • Conveyance systems direct water flow, rocks stabilize the inflow and outflow
  • Right Plant, Right Place: Choose plants for moisture, drought tolerance, sun or shade
  • Mulch. Weed. Water for the first year or two. No chemicals, please!
Model Rain Garden

Model Rain Garden


  • Directing stormwater to where we need it – in the garden!
  • Creating function and interest with changes in topography
  • The layered landscape: Bulbs, groundcovers, annuals, perennials, shrubs, tree canopy


  • Healthy soils and thriving plants
  • Creating micro-climates for moisture loving plants and for plants needing fast drainage
  • Weed suppression, low maintenance and low water use landscapes
  • Stormwater management and biofiltration= less pollution in our creeks, rivers and bay
  • Welcoming wildlife: the birds and all the beneficial biology
  • Four seasons of beauty!

Resources for a successful project: www.wastormwatercenter.org

For more information on rain gardening and Wonder-Flora Landscape Design, visit Janaki’s website here.


Staff Container Contest Results!

Let’s give a shout out to everyone who came by yesterday, September 20th, and voted on our staff container contest for our raffle. We had about 150 ballots, so thanks everyone for voting! Success!

A big congratulations to Lynn Salas, who won our raffle! She received her container of choice by Paige (both shown below) today!


Congratulations to our staff as well! Sam, Ginger and Antoni won first, second and third place respectively! It was such a close count!




This container competition was so much fun, we plan on doing this again in the Spring! So tune in then for another chance to win a free container.

We love putting together seasonal arrangements of all styles, sizes and color. Choose us as your next container designer and stop by for free consultation with one of our friendly and knowledgeable staff. Happy Almost Autumn!

Here’s the rest of our staff entries:


NWFGS Sneak Peek!

Today our crew drove down to Seattle for a sneak peek at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show gardens. And boy oh boy was it worth the trip! The gardens were just spectacular this year. Now we wouldn’t want to post too many spoilers. But here’s a little peek at the innovative, artful and amazing gardens we saw today.

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A ‘mother/daughter’ garden by Sue Goetz and Courtney Goetz with a garden ‘retreat’ to please both generations, fully equipped for a zombie attack no less.




A joyous ode to ‘upcycling’ from the lovely Vanca Lumsden and Judith Jones. Plant geeks take a close look at this garden, there are plants here esp. ferns that you won’t find anywhere else.

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As always, the small gardens in the Sky Bridge were every bit as exciting as the larger gardens.




We especially appreciated this teeny tiny Seahawks garden by garden author Janit Calvo. So pretty!

We’re headed down to the show again this Thursday on our party bus. What fun! If you want to join us, there a just a few seats left. Call us tomorrow between 9 am and 5 pm to reserve your spot: 360-676-5480

Hope to see you all there!

D.I.Y. Design: Kalanchoe and friends

Today marks the start of our D.I.Y. Design series. Three plants chosen by one of our Garden Spot designers that will complement each other in the garden or in a container. A lot of design is about creating areas of interest. We make it simple, with a collection of plants that lend a diversity of color and texture to your space.

Our first Design Pick is by Nancy. She’s chosen three houseplants that will look smashing planted together, or grouped in separate containers.


Her first pick is kalanchoe. An under appreciated workhorse in the home greenscape. Nancy loves that they bloom intensely for a long period, and since they’re inexpensive, they’re easy to replace once they’ve petered out a bit.


Her second pick is a variegated ivy. The key to growing ivy indoors Nancy says, is to give it a good shower once a month to keep the leaves free of dust. This will prevent spider mites. Also, keep them well fed with a quality fertilizer such as Daniel’s Plant Food.


Her last pick is a Pteris fern from the polypodiaceae family. They are easy care ferns and you don’t have to worry about them drying up as much!

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One note on watering… Kalanchoe generally take less water than ivy and Pteris ferns. With that in mind, if you do want them in one container, you can keep them in their separate pots and cluster them in a larger container with moss on top, as in the picture above. Or you can plant them together and think of this combo as a ‘living bouquet’ and just enjoy them as long as they last!