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Landscape construction is well under way at the Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center.

Planting has begun on the “filter strip” and “bioswale” that will manage storm water runoff from the Welcome Center’s new parking lot. Together, they will reduce peak volumes, improve water quality, facilitate ground water recharge, and support a new plant collection.

Photo © 2010 Cornell Plantations

The filter strip is the system’s front line. It has two parts, a band of crushed stone and a band of plantings (above). The crushed stone reduces the runoff’s velocity, dampening its erosive force and allowing its larger suspended particles to settle out. The planted band holds trees, grasses, and flowering perennials which will catch smaller particulates, metabolize dissolved pollutants, and transpire water into the atmosphere. The filter strip’s sandy soil will allow excess water to percolate rather than run off.

When heavy rainstorms and snowmelt exceed the filter strip’s capacity, it will release water into the bioswale (to the right in the photo above).

The bioswale is a rain garden with the capacity to hold large volumes of water. It will store runoff during storms and release it gradually in the hours and days that follow, recharging the area’s groundwater and reducing peak flows into nearby Beebe Lake and Fall Creek. It will be planted with woody and herbaceous plants selected for their tolerance of both drought—the basin will more often be dry than full—and occasional inundation.

The filter strip and bioswale will be gradually knitted into the surrounding (and still-evolving) Botanical Garden, where they will demonstrate the complementary relationship between sound ecology and Cornell Plantations’s signature horticultural excellence.

Botanical Garden Master Plan and Welcome Center Landscape (2001 to 2008) by Halvorson Design Partnership, Inc., Tobias Wolf, project manager, planner, and designer.

Consulting for final Botanical Garden build-out (2009-2010) by Wolf Landscape Architecture.

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