Sign In Forgot Password



This beautiful valley is a hard-working landscape, designed and engineered to capture and hold storm water until it can percolate into the soil. Gardens like this one are popping up in densely-built environments as a way of reducing the runoff caused by acres of roofs and paved surfaces.

Beth Sholom’s property is approximately 90% roofed and paved. Its 1980s-era system of gutters and storm drains channeled rainstorm runoff from the roof and parking lot into a sewer that emptied into nearby Cabin John Creek. Still, before bulldozers sculpted the Greenway and gardeners planted it in 2017, these adjacent sections of Beth Sholom and St. James Episcopal congregations’ properties were neglected, overrun with invasive vines and poison ivy, and consistently flooded. (Flooded path photo Susana Altmann; property aerial view Google Earth, Montgomery County, MD.

The storm water running through suburban drainage systems is laden with silt, nitrogen and pesticides from lawns, and salts, oil and litter from roads and parking lots. This water pollutes Cabin John Creek, which drains directly into the Potomac River, and then into the Chesapeake Bay. All Washington metro area drinking water comes from the Potomac. It is also a crucial link in the 1972 Clean Water Act-mandated effort to clean up the Bay.



A layer of coarse gravel beneath the garden’s paths creates space to hold water while it is slowly absorbed by the plant roots in the surrounding soil and into the subsoil below. The Interfaith Greenway contains several drywells (see section view below) capable of holding many gallons of water. The soil and crushed gravel filter the water as it drips through, and the plants are nourished by the nitrogen and phosphorus that would have polluted the creek.


The Interfaith Greenway flows through several microclimates, from shady woodland edge to sunny meadow. Visitors can journey through the garden on the Sensory Trail, or relax and learn in several gathering places. The garden educates community groups of all ages and backgrounds on the latest environmental practices.

The trees, shrubs and perennials in the gardens are native to the mid-Atlantic region, well-adapted to our local climate, soil, insects and microorganisms. Their deep roots prevent soil erosion and absorb excess water, helping them tolerate periodic inundations as well as droughts.


Over time, our neighborhood’s plants, insects, and animals wove a tightly interdependent food web. The region’s birds, frogs and lizards eat the insects that hatch and grow only on indigenous plants. The wide variety of plant species growing here supports a productively healthy local environment


Interfaith Greenway Naming Opportunities

Contact Information


Wed, January 16 2019 10 Shevat 5779