“Waterwash Narrow River” – A Rain Garden Walk

September 30, 2021

Rain gardens can be a viable solution to minimize the impact of stormwater run-off into sensitive wetlands and other environmentally fragile areas. Creating a rain garden on your property can feel like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be a large area to be impactful. To learn more, nearly 50 people joined us for two garden tours on September 11, led by Lillian Ball. Lillian is an ecological artist/activist working on water issues and has a multidisciplinary background in anthropology, ethnographic film, and sculpture. Her expertise both in understanding the “big picture” as well as landscape design, paired with expansive knowledge of native plants offered attendees hope that they too could create something meaningful, environmentally impactful, and beautiful in their home landscape.


The location of the tour in Orient is the only residential project in the WATERWASH series conceptualized and designed by Lillian. Created in collaboration with the property owners, architect, and nature, the project at the 15-acre site involved the removal of invasive plants and adding perennials and grasses native to the Northeastern U.S. Several rain gardens installed throughout the site hold storm water as it soaks the plantings, reducing runoff and erosion, and provide the perfect environment for native plants to thrive.

Plants observed during the tour included many varieties of native grasses, including Little Blue Stem, Indian Grass, Atlantic Grass, Switchgrass, and Purple Love Grass. Woven throughout the meadow were Eastern Red Cedar, Bayberry, Goldenrod, Milkweed and Arrowwood Viburnum. Closer to the home we observed numerous varieties of Asters as well as Ninebark, along with Ironweed, Baptisia australis (false indigo), Joe Pye weed, and Liatris (blazing star).

Attendees learned about design considerations and selecting appropriate native plants suited to the environment. As the saying goes, “Right plant, Right place,” which means that if you choose plants well suited to the location where they are being planted, they will perform well with limited additional input. This is a respected rule of thumb for all landscape projects executed with a low impact, sustainable approach. At Waterwash Narrow River, this approach resulted in a peaceful and beautiful meadow that supports pollinators and wildlife while protecting the integrity of our wetlands and drinking water for generations to come.

For additional information about this project and to learn more about Waterwash projects, please visit Lillian’s website here.

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