Clouds overhead? Never mind: there are still plenty of reasons to feel positive...

 

Gardener or not, I find it difficult to welcome so much rain. To start with, I find myself in conversations with other soaking-wet people uttering platitudes such as, "Well, the garden did need it." Later, moister, we meet again and indulge in fantasies of a world without hosepipe bans. But in general, in the crocodilian layer of brain beneath the conscious mind, my thoughts are, "Stop raining: I need sun so I can plonk my big reptile tail on the muddy riverbank and get all hot."

While some plants are ruined by rain, others come into their own. The worst sufferers are soft annuals such as poppies, cosmos and daisies, which can suffer a sort of rain-sponsored colony collapse. Others are just spoilt by association; if you have set out a field of lavender in the hope of evoking a special holiday in the South of France, it is galling to see it drowned.

Roses, on the other hand, look delicious in rain. There's something pristine about the surfaces of their petals dotted with tiny, curved pearls of water. Particularly pink ones; one highlight this week was seeing a combination of one, bright-pink "Gertrude Jekyll", and another, paler, "Mortimer Sackler", growing through each other, covered in fresh raindrops.

By chance it was also the moment a new book, Creating Rain Gardens by Cleo Woelfle-Erskine and Apryl Uncapher (Timber £14.99), plopped on our soggy doormat. The authors have a very particular ecological mission: to create basin-like gardens that conserve water fed directly by downpipes or chains from roof runoff. These basins are then filled with plants that respond directly to a heavy downpour by putting on a flush of flowers. Water is not wasted in the sewers, causing fewer flooding problems; hosepipes are rarely used; and birds, insects and amphibians all benefit.

The most impressive thing about this persuasive publication is the record of a broad range of community projects currently involved in rain-conscious landscaping, including one beautiful scheme by Nigel Dunnett and Adrian Hallam for a factory site in Coventry, where increased Tarmac for car parking was causing flooding problems. A rain-garden design saved money on a huge proposed redrainage scheme and earnt the company PR eco-credentials.

The book also features three projects by fishing communities using rain gardens to clean up contaminants running off into rivers, including one oyster restaurant hoping to cultivate its own molluscs.

Yet it's not all totally eco – there's lots to interest lovers of the JCB, too: many of the schemes require a small digger at the least to carve out a suitable rain basin. Other plans use shallower channels to transport water away from floodable patios towards growing areas, making attractive, snaking, stony paths. There are also cunning tips on how to create rain defences in a sloped garden, as well as tempting plant lists for species that will flourish with occasional drownings (see box, right). And now I'm focusing all my hopes that, having begun to see the good side of the rain, we can have a nicely timed drought for August.

Plants for soggy spots

Cornus alba 'Sibirica'

Flowering right now, this shrub is most highly prized for its bright-red winter stems – a strong feature in a cold, empty garden. £8.99

Deschampsia cespitosa

An elegant grass that can tolerate flooding, bearing a delicate, silvery cloud of flowers. £8.99

Lythrum salicaria 'Blush'

The traditional purple riverside plant Loose-strife, in an unfamiliar and rather beautiful soft pink. £7.99. All from crocus.co.uk

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsDe Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
News
i100
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Sport
England captain Wayne Rooney during training
FOOTBALLNew captain vows side will deliver against Norway for small crowd
Life and Style
Red or dead: An actor portrays Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory, rumoured to have bathed in blood to keep youthful
health
News
peopleJustin Bieber charged with assault and dangerous driving after crashing quad bike into a minivan
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Sport
Radamel Falcao poses with his United shirt
FOOTBALLRadamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant in Colombia to Manchester United's star signing
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Front-Office Developer (C#, .NET, Java,Artificial Intelligence)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Front-Of...

C++ Quant Developer

£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Developer C++, Python, STL, R, PD...

Java/Calypso Developer

£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Java/Calypso Developer Java, Calypso, J2EE, J...

SQL Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer SQL, C#, Stored Procedures, MDX...

Day In a Page

Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

Stolen youth

Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

Made by Versace, designed by her children

Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Anyone for pulled chicken?

Pulling chicks

Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
9 best steam generator irons

9 best steam generator irons

To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
England v Norway: Wayne Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

New captain vows side will deliver for small Wembley crowd
‘We knew he was something special:’ Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing

‘We knew he was something special’

Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York