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Chelsea Garden Club learns how to design, build and plant a rain garden

Here are some ideas for plants in your rain garden.

Have you ever considered adding a rain garden to your property as a way to control runoff from your roof, which, if left unchecked, eventually ends up in the Huron River?

Susan Bryan talks about rain gardens.

Rain gardens clean and cool storm water so that streams and rivers run clean and anyone can plant one in their backyard, according to information about these projects.

Chelsea Area Garden Club members were recently treated to an informative presentation about how to do establish a rain garden at their home by Susan Bryan, rain garden coordinator for the Washtenaw County Office of the Water Resources Commissioner.

Titled “Establishing a Rain Garden – Clean up Our River, One Garden at a Time,” Bryan offered many ideas for construction, placement and flower selections. In addition, the advanced Master Gardener, who has an MA in landscape architecture, teaches a five-week course in the topic.

“Planting a rain garden is a fun way for people to make a difference in the quality of the water in our rivers and streams, starting in our own back yards,” she says. “You don’t need any special equipment – just some space, a spade, compost and a few plants.”

Plus, rain gardens are “a non-point solution for non-point source pollution,” she says.

According to information about the class, the Washtenaw County Rain Garden program has been building and planting rain gardens for seven years. And, interested residents can train to be Master Rain Gardeners.

Although a class is currently underway and participants must attend all five classes and plant one to receive a Master Rain Gardener “Blue Thumb” certificate, you can contact Bryan at 734-730-9025 or at [email protected] for information about the next class.

The Chelsea Garden Club meets on the second Monday of each month at noon at the Chelsea First United Methodist Church at 128 Park St., Anyone can join — you don’t have to have huge gardens or have a ton of gardening experience — and membership dues are just $15 for the year.

Garden Club President Susan Moore reads from the agenda during the meeting.

The monthly meetings typically include a potluck, a speaker and a short business meeting.

Carol Strahler and Elizabeth Sensoli are the monthly program co-chairwomen and they’ve planned an interesting line-up for the remainder of this year.

So you get an idea of range of speakers at the club’s meetings, here’s a taste of the programs planned for early this year.

*Feb. 11:  Saundra Dunn – Daylilies: a Kaleidoscope of Color.  She is a Chelsea Special Education teacher and the owner of Along the Fence Daylilies.

*March 11:  Mary Heim – Fundamentals of Flower Arranging. She is the owner of Heim Gardens and will teach basic techniques such as form, line, texture, and color.

Plus, a flower arranging workshop is planned after the meeting for a $20 fee. The cost covers supplies including a container and flowers. To register, please contact Carol Strahler at 475-9444 or e-mail her at [email protected] by March 1.

*April 8:  Colette Szabo – Bees: A Friend to Gardeners. She manages honey production at Berkshire Farms. Besides the general basics of beekeeping, Szabo will explain the honeybee decline, and cover which flowers and landscaping techniques should be used to attract bees to your property.

In addition, the club holds an annual plant and flower sale in May.

This year, it will take place on May 11 downtown. Plants are gathered from member’s gardens or donated from community residents and there are hundreds of selections from herbs and grasses to ground covers, sun and shade loving perennials, as well as some shrubs. Proceeds from the sale are used for downtown beautification, scholarships and education projects in the Chelsea area.

Susan Byran, rain garden coordinator for the Office of the Water Resources Commissioner.
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