In 2017, we designed and built the world’s first Rain Park in South Orange, NJ. It was a huge deal for us and really set a new direction for the thinking around green infrastructure, public parks and community engagement. However, things didn’t go as plan for getting lots of amazing plants to grow in the new space. The lack of flowers and other nice things to look at caused a bit of an uproar, so we have doubled efforts to get the Rain Park moving in the right direction. The new direction has given us a chance to also show how landscape design can be as much an art form as a gardening and maintenance.
It takes a village to raise a public park, and it takes a sense of ownership to invest all the needed resource to keep it going. The Rain Park is going through a transformation this spring (2019) with new plantings and a much more robust schedule for summer and fall. There’s lots of details…lots of important issues to address to make the space amazing, but one that that is already apparent is that it’s a piece of art too.
During the most recent planting, we used colored flags to show where all the new plants were installed. This decision was mainly a practical one at first. The new installation was going to be with volunteers so we needed to know where things were to keep everything organized. But as the flags went in, a much more artistic expression emerged.
We used landscape plugs for the Rain Park so we could get as many new plants as possible. These small items are nearly invisible so the flags really let them pop. The different colors represent different species. The planting plan has the different plants mingling to create a landscape effect. With the flags, you can already see how they will co-exist, and it looks fabulous.
When the wind blows, the flags move giving the space a sense of texture. Because the flags are such exciting colors, they really bring attention. You can see for yourself in the images above and below.
The Rain Park is an ongoing project in South Orange. It is as much a piece of green infrastructure as art. The mounds stop water from simply running into the pond. Rainwater always carries sediment and other things that are better left out of the water. All of the rain that does flow across the hills is filtered so its cleaner going in the pond that if the Rain Park wasn’t there. You can watch a video that gives you more info about the new plants below.
The new plants went in during the afternoon of April 7, 2019 with lots of volunteers including some extremely helpful kids. The entire area was ablaze with folks. South Orange is having a renaissance of sorts with the town pond (aka Duck Pond). A Girl Scouts troop was cleaning it as the Rain Park was getting planted. We didn't get everything done that day, so the next day about 5 more volunteers showed up after work and got the rest of the plants in the ground.
The night shots of the finished product are really amazing! The flags against the dark sky and street lights is pure creative genius. You can see more info about the Rain Park on our Youtube channel as well as see more photos on our instagram page. The instagram page also showcases lots of other projects of ours.
The goal is to make this blog a resource for helpful tips and sustainable ideas. I create original content that shows projects in progress and the behind-the-scenes of installation. And, I try to have as much fun as I can doing it.