A redesign of the Franklin County Courthouse rain gardens gives downtown a splash of natural color and helps capture and filter storm water in a more efficient way.

Rain gardens are small depressions filled with sand, topsoil and compost that have been planted with native plants to soak in rain water runoff.

The originally installed rain gardens were over-engineered and did not fulfill their potential, serving mostly as an ashtray in front of the courthouse. Now, the redesigned rain gardens are home to beautiful, vibrant native plants, such as blue flag iris, swamp milkweed, purple coneflower, blacked eyed susans, prairie dropseed, little bluestem, sedge, serviceberry and more. The layout is formal, but has a natural look.

In addition to helping filter and absorb rain water, these wonderful native plants also attract and host pollinators.

Here’s a look at the summer blooming plants:

Ascelpias incarnata, swamp milkweed, is just one variety of milkweed, which is a wonderful host plant for the magnificent monarch butterfly. The showy pink and mauve blooms appear in July and August. (Photo courtesy Inside Out Design)

Echinacea purpurea, purple coneflower, is always a winner with its long lasting purple pink blooms. It’s also a bird and butterfly favorite. (Photo courtesy Inside Out Design)

Liatris spicata, gayfeather or blazing star, is a bold perennial with wonderful texture and periwinkle coloring, which blooms in mid to late June through part of July. It makes an excellent cut flower too! (Photo courtesy Inside Out Design)

Andrea Wilson Mueller, APLD is a native Frankfortian and 2003 magna cum laude graduate of the University Of Kentucky College Of Design with a Bachelors of Arts in Design. She was raised in the horticulture industry by her dad and is the first and only APLD certified landscape designer in the state of Kentucky. She specializes in large-scale residential and commercial outdoor and native garden design.