We can learn so much from nature. Every day my eyes are opened to new paradigms, especially to those about green roof biodiversity, and green roof and living wall plants.
Sometimes nature's biodiversity maxims scream at me like 'Wake Up! The house is on Fire! yet I just don't get it, my eyes and thoughts unwilling to shift from automatic to manual focus.
Other times, like this morning, I sit straight up in bed at 2 am, the compact fluorescent light bulb in my head, flashing - not flickering - on.
I had led three tours of the Breaking Ground Contracting Green Roof late yesterday afternoon. The Tappouni sisters hosted a Thursday event for the Interior Designers Association (IDA), a lively group of artists.
Ruairi, my son and I arrived at the roof perhaps an hour before the event was scheduled to begin, checking out the roof to make sure all looked good.
With my eye to pruning a few stragglers, cleaned back those headless stems - I didn't realize just how many flowers had been cut over the year. One of the wonders of the BGC green roof is the massive amounts of flowers provided for the office below over the growing season. While I was pruning, Ruairi was taking photos.
BGC's Green Roof wildlife population is significant, always allowing for special photo moments.
While October waits just a few days into the weekend, the shortening days and changing seasons have set off the seed alarm on may of the native wildflowers.
The fall flowers are splendid. Most of the summer flowers are gone - thought there are a few remaining and even a very few starting to bloom.
I anecdotally suspect something different in nectar's message and power between the lively summer bloomers and the fall flowers of harvest. I know the color hues shift, but I propose there may be a chemical message somewhere in there recognized by the pollinator's DNA telling the insects time is coming for wintering over.
Ruairi was shooting most of his photos around the Remaining summer bloomers - many of the Asteraceae.
Again, those native hairy pollinators were hitting the summer blooming native asters and that is where most buzzing activity was occurring.
Yes - still occurring - the native pollinators prefer the native plants. We've discussed this maxim in previous posts. A well rounded green roof will have a solid three dimensional biodiversity palette - plenty of native wildflowers to keep the pollinators interested in the ecosystem sot e food plants and other plants can be properly pollinated.
Good three dimensional biodiversity employs native plants scattered across the green roof to attract the most efficient, hairy native pollinators across the entire roof, ensuring food and seed maximization.
Believing solid three dimensional green roof biodiversity rests fundamentally on anti-compartmentalization of plant placement, I design with the jungle look, food forest intent, scattering the buffet of flowers and nectar across every corner of the living roof, ensuring maximum contact of pollinators, native plants and food plants.
The IDA tours were fun and inspiring and I enjoyed the opportunity to talk to brilliant interior designers.
Animated rooftop yaking is draining though and I was exhausted when I got home, heading for bed with the MacBook Pro only to quickly set it aside for dreamland.
The native pollinator cloud over the portion of the late summer bloomers kept jumping into my mind.
There had been a barrage of questions concerning plant selection and I'd discussed CAM, C3 and C4 photosynthesis design theory, talking of how C4 (Poaceae) and CAM (many succulents) processes are very similar - they both protect water in the leaf. Yet C4 and CAM are also different - the main anomaly being one of C4 photosynthesis protects water spatially (by embedding part of the Calvin Cycle in protected vacuoles) while the CAM processes protects water, not spatially, but through time relationships (the stomata protect water by opening at night).
C4 (spatial) v CAM (time).
Space v time. Time is the fourth dimension.
I sat up in bed. I had witnessed the fourth dimension of biodiversity this afternoon!
Sure, my green roofs are spatially anti-compartmentalized.
But the few remaining native summer wildflowers wer stretching biodiversity functions not only across space, but across time - providing continuity functions of plant DNA replication throughout overlapping seasons.
Staggering seed planting across the season allows for staging of plant life, flowering, fruiting and death creating a much broader opportunity for net gains in plant evolution.
Yes, I know this is staggering of planting is an age old permaculture practice. BUt it never struck me just why!
Spatial anti-compartmentalization and now time anti-compartmentalization! Four dimensions of biodiversity.
I could slap myself for not realizing this before my 54th year. But hey, better late than never.
Four dimensions of biodiversity! This is truly high-tech green roof thinking...
LOL. I'd probably get a failing grade on this proposition as a thesis but I know staggering seed sowing and planting of the same species will anti-compartmentalize the blooming component on my green roof natives, and keep the native pollinators interested longer into the season.
And I'll put these anti-compartmentalized green roof designs for the hot and dry and cyclones up against any others!
Four point five dimensions on the green roof biodiversity issue. Totally RAD.