Mayor Tom HenryIt seems spring has taken hold at last, so the thoughts of many property owners are turning to landscaping and gardening. As I’ve been out and about, I’ve enjoyed seeing the Main Street median and Courthouse Green come alive with daffodils and jonquils, lawns greening up and neighborhoods in bloom with color. The City of Fort Wayne offers a number of ways to encourage residents to get involved in gardening to beautify our community.

Rain Gardens Catch Runoff

If you want to build an environmentally beneficial garden, a rain garden may be the answer. About 80 Fort Wayne homeowners have already built rain gardens, so you may see one if you take a stroll around your neighborhood.

A rain garden is an area landscaped with native plants that holds rainwater runoff for a short time and helps it soak into the ground. Rainwater can be directed to the rain garden from a downspout, driveway or other hard surface area. The rain garden is slightly below the grade of the yard so that it acts like a mini-detention pond holding a few inches of rainwater after a storm. Within a day or so, the native plants in the garden help the standing water “infiltrate” into the ground.

Rain gardens have several benefits: they can reduce the amount of runoff going into the City’s combined sewer system. This can mean less sewer backups and less sewage discharged to the rivers. In areas where sewers carry stormwater only, rain gardens can help reduce erosion so less sediment goes into the storm sewers.

City Utilities offer workshops on rain gardens and you may qualify for discounted rain garden plants by participating in the City’s program. Check out for workshop dates and much more information.

Mother’s Day Plant Sale Moves to McMillen.

Speaking of plants…The Botanical Conservatory hosts its Mother’s Day Plant Sale on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 6 – 8. The sale is well known as a source for sturdy, healthy plants, locally grown by Fort Wayne’s Parks and Recreation Department.

This year the sale will move inside the McMillen Ice Arena at 3901 Abbott Street. The new location gives shoppers more room to move around and protects our volunteers and shoppers from the weather. Our volunteers can help you select the right plants and they’ll carry them to the car for you.
Some 600 varieties of plants will be offered for sale. The plant supply is replenished through the weekend, and includes herbs, tomatoes and mixed planters along with annuals, perennials and hanging baskets. Visit for a list of plants and sale hours. Proceeds from the sale support quality programs at the Botanical Conservatory.

Visit a Park

If planting your own garden isn’t for you, Fort Wayne’s parks offer beautiful spring flower displays for you to enjoy without doing any work at all. Take a walk or a bike ride on one of our Greenway trails to visit Foster, Swinney, Shoaff, or Lakeside Parks or come downtown and enjoy the seasonal changes along Main Street and on the Courthouse Green.

Tom Henry - Fort Wayne Mayor

A lifelong Fort Wayne resident, Mayor Thomas C. Henry is committed to public and community service. He was elected to his first term as Fort Wayne's Mayor November 6, 2007. Mayor Henry authors the "Message from the Mayor" column. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer