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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Tuesday - January 08, 2013

From: Oakland, IA
Region: Midwest
Topic: Rain Gardens, Wildflowers
Title: School Rain Garden in Iowa
Answered by: Janice Kvale

QUESTION:

Could you recommend plants for a rain garden to be installed on a middle school campus in the Council Bluffs Iowa area???? Many thanks!

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants loves easy questions and this is one. There is a plethora of information on rain gardens in Iowa. Using your favorite search engine, type in rain gardens Iowa. Iowa has produced an entire detailed manual on how to create a rain garden. Find it at http://www.iowaagriculture.gov/press/pdfs/RGManualOct09green.pdf.  More information and a more extensive plant list are at the Iowa State University Extension. Your county extension office may be interested in your project and have more information for you. Some of the plants suggested in these documents are pictured below. They are all native to Iowa and are designed to have something blossoming from February to October. Click on the scientific name under each photo to learn why each may be valuable for your site and the wild life, such as birds and butterflies, that each attracts. Be sure to check on light requirements, whether sun, part shade, or shade and choose accordingly. Use our Combination Search to find other suitable options for Ohio.

Mr. Smarty Plants recommends using plants native to your area for the reasons listed here. He envisions a curriculum for students that includes why one uses native plants, why rain gardens are beneficial, and hands on experience in building and planting the garden. Some suppliers for native plants near you are listed here.

Congratulations on such a great educational and ecological project.

 

From the Image Gallery


Virginia bluebells
Mertensia virginica

Yellow marsh marigold
Caltha palustris

Ontario aster
Symphyotrichum ontarionis

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

Queen of the prairie
Filipendula rubra

Mississippi penstemon
Penstemon digitalis

Swamp milkweed
Asclepias incarnata

Old man's whiskers
Geum triflorum

Eastern red columbine
Aquilegia canadensis

Culver's root
Veronicastrum virginicum

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Bottlebrush sedge
Carex hystericina

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