Cheryl Corson designs Smithsonian Zoo garden



Jennifer Daniels, landscape architect at the Smithsonian National Zoo, right, with Mount Desert summer resident and landscape architect Cheryl Corson, who designed a special garden to capture rain runoff at the zoo. PHOTO COURTESY OF WILLIAM MCCALL

Jennifer Daniels, landscape architect at the Smithsonian National Zoo, right, with Mount Desert summer resident and landscape architect Cheryl Corson, who designed a special garden to capture rain runoff at the zoo.
PHOTO COURTESY OF WILLIAM MCCALL

MOUNT DESERT — A former Otter Creek resident who still returns summers has designed a special rain garden at the Smithsonian National Zoo.

The newly completed demonstration rain garden adjacent to the Speedwell Foundation Conservation Carousel captures storm water from historic Olmsted walk. It was designed by Cheryl Corson.

The water is cleaned as it passes through layers of native plants and special soil, recharging the water table instead of flowing into Rock Creek. Birds, butterflies and other critters will find a home in the new rain garden, funded by a generous grant from the District Department of the Environment. Even though the plants are not all green in winter, the rain garden is still doing its job.

The rain garden is yet another element in the ‘conservation hub’ at the carousel which includes carousel animal figures that tell the zoo’s conservation success stories, pervious paving to capture and filter storm water runoff, solar arrays on the carousel’s pavilion to offset electrical power use and an interactive solar monitoring kiosk for visitors. This relatively small demonstration site enables the zoo to think big and test ways in which to develop a comprehensive storm water management plan for the entire 163 acres that will have far reaching effects on the Rock Creek watershed, Corson explained.

All of these elements demonstrate a commitment to the Smithsonian’s mission of saving species by modeling strong environmental stewardship of zoo landscapes, the very landscapes these species depend on for survival.

A grand opening of the rain garden was held earlier this month.