Everyday Gardeners

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Water recycling


The natural appearance of this stream disguises its role in recycling stormwater runoff.

When it’s 103 degrees F in the shade, water in the landscape looks mighty inviting! That’s the situation I found myself in last week in Milwaukee while visiting the Boerner (pronounced BURN-er) Botanical Gardens. Lucky for me, the garden has a state-of-the-art rainwater harvesting and recycling system that doubles as a beautiful landscape water feature and serves as a cooling respite on a hot summer day. The system harvests rain from the parking lot and the roof of the visitor center, diverting it to the stream you see above. The water flows into a reservoir with two submersible pumps. One recirculates the water through a sediment trap; the other through the riparian wetland. The plants in the stream help filter the water, gulping extra minerals, reducing the iron content of the water enough to prevent staining of limestone sculptures in the garden. The system can capture 35,000 gallons of water at a time, saving up to 2.5 million gallons of irrigation water per year.

Part of a public art project at Boerner Botanical Garden, this carved limestone piece is one of eight in a series of sculptures by artist Susan Falkman entitled "Passage". Each represents a different element of the cycle of life through the seasons in the garden.

The foliage of Jade Princess ornamental millet glows in the sunlight. It is one of the plants on trial in the All-American Selections display garden at Boerner Botanical Gardens.

While hiking through the bog garden at Boerner, I came across a flock of wild turkeys, including four adults and bevy of half-grown poults.

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