When judges for the Great Garden Contest added a special award for rain gardens this year, we weren't sure what we would get. Maybe a few backyard spaces planted with trees, shrubs and perennials that could handle runoff from a heavy rain.
We never expected a 7-acre wetlands reclaimed from a former coal mine and golf and swim club. Bob Hedin, an environmental engineer from Mt. Lebanon, designed a passive system to mitigate 43 tons of iron oxides that had been flowing into Chartiers Creek at the 87-acre Wingfield Pines site in Upper St. Clair and South Fayette. His client, the Allegheny Land Trust, wanted a hard-working swamp that also offered a boardwalk and trails for walkers and runners, educational opportunities for visitors, and a natural habitat for fish, frogs, birds and other wildlife.
Three years after installation, Wingfield Pines does all that in addition to providing ideas in plant selection and natural views that change with the seasons. Gardeners who want a sustainable, low-maintenance plot that saves water and benefits the environment can learn a lot from Wingfield Pines, which is why it was chosen as the winner of the special rain gardens award by the Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, co-sponsors of the Great Gardens Contest. In September, the PG will run a full story on the project and photos from spring, summer, fall and winter.
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First Published August 4, 2012 4:00 AM