Rain gardens are great ways to capture ran water from downpipes. Then can also be great for encouraging pollinators.
A few weeks ago I visited a project my consultancy were advisors too. The weather had been hot and sunny for a few weeks .The forecast had been for rain, so I waited diligently for the down pour to come. Instead the clouds never graced the sky. Instead of rain, the meadow rain gardens were graced with pollinators.
Rain Gardens at Queen Caroline Estate
The site is a standards council estate in West London, not far from Hammersmith tube. This part of West London is served by a combined sewer. A few times over the last 15 years, sever down pours have lead to raw sewage entering the nearby Thames. Such discharges during summer storms have caused thousands of fish to be killed.
Although the Thames Tunnel is designed to restrict this, another approach that is far more multi-beneficial is to install wide spread green infrastructure in to cities like London. Rain gardens are relatively easy green infrastructure interventions. Especially when all the amenity grassland that surrounds housing estates. Bog standard grass can be transformed to catch rain, hold it and let the wildflowers back into the city. And with them the pollinators.
The first day I visited the rain gardens at Queen Caroline estate, they buzzed with pollinators. Solitary bees, bumblebees, a few butterflies, moths and other insects were evidently enjoying the new terrain. The transformed landscape of the estate had only been in place for a month. But nature had responded. Clover and plantain, birdsfoot trefoil and knapweed so rarely seen on housing estates were all in bloom.
A few weeks later, in late July the skies really did let the rain fall. For at least 6 hours. And these new rain gardens came into there own as temporary water storage zones. Travelling back across London, I also noted all the roof downpipes that just drain onto the street or pavement.
Where does all that water go?