A roof is an unlikely place for a beautiful landscape. Yet many shrubs, grasses, asters, bulbs, agaves, poppies, tickseeds and numerous other plants are clearly thriving on top of our 6,000 ft2 green roof.
Green roofs are multifactorial in their benefits and function. They help improve energy efficiency from an added layer of insulation provided by the growing media. They also reduce stormwater runoff by retaining and detaining rainfall which reduces pressures put on local stormwater systems. Green roofs combat the urban heat island effect by reducing temperature and improving local air quality. They also provide greater biodiversity and increase green spaces in areas normally devoid of them. Green roofs are an example of how building infrastructure can blend with, rather than clash against, the natural environment.
Our green roof at Moore Farms Botanical Garden was built in 2011 and houses our maintenance facility. The 4:12 slope provides expansive viewing opportunities from the ground level, but for more intimate exploration a turf catwalk was constructed along the bottom edge. Here guests are able to observe the intricate plantings in greater detail. It’s hard to imagine that all of these plants are thriving in only six inches of growing media! The roof itself is irrigated with recirculated storm water runoff captured in underground cisterns.
Much like a green roof, a living wall is an artificial growing environment created to soften or ‘green’ otherwise stark surfaces, often in urban areas devoid of other vegetation. However, whereas green roofs are found on top of buildings, living walls are installed on vertical structures such walls, fences and columns.
While some living walls are simply vines growing up support systems, more complex examples consist of modular containers or geotextiles that hold both soil and plants. Since this challenging environment offers little room for root growth and requires frequent irrigation, great care must be exercised during plant selection. Evergreens, vines and sprawling plants are generally good choices to render the surface and support structure invisible behind a lush curtain of vegetation.
The living wall at MFBG was installed in December of 2012. The support structure was designed in house and holds over 70 varieties of plants. This living lab enables us to further research living walls in the southeast, while the exotic combinations of plant textures and colors offer visitors a fascinating peak into this innovative trend in horticulture.