Thursday, September 6, 2012

Green Roofs and Biomimicry's Lessons

An understanding of proper plant use for Urban Greening projects, including green roofs and urban permaculture gardens can come from many sources including, research, books, libraries, on-line information sharing and hands-on experience.

Florida Green Roof Plants - Frog Fruit crows across harsh, hot coquina sea wall boulders

One of my favorite ways to learn about what species of plants to use and how to grow them across cityscapes is to study successful plant habit in harsh ecosystems.

Those plants growing well under the influence of extreme heat, high humidity, strong desiccating winds, intense light or shade levels and other environmental factors will  usually survive on a city roof, against a wall, on a patio or balcony and in a windowsill.

Too many times designers try and use those plants that need to be gently cared for in cityscapes.  Ultimately the plants die and the urban greening project is shelved for another with less perceived maintenance requirements.

Florida Green Roof Plants - Nature's Examples are the Best Way to Learn About Urban Greening

However, there are many places to find the results of nature's selections and choices.

The beach and her sand dunes; hot, dry roadsides; Urban rooftops; gutters on buildings, vacant lots are just a few of many mini-biomes presenting opportunities for learning about plant growth habits, root architecture, soil, water and nutrient requirements and more.

This week I was walking along a coquina rock seawall.  I cannot go far with my dissected aorta and many times, walking ten feet or so is enough to tire me to the point of sitting down to rest.  The slowness has advantages though and stopping more often allows for opportunities to examine small outcrops of plants in detail.

The coquina boulders in front me, though they were surrounded by salt water, buffeted with strong winds and unrelenting sunlight, supported an amazing array of lovely plants and wildflowers.

Those plants I saw on the boulders, the Frog Fruit, Hydrocotyle, native succulents, many of these we have successfully used across green roofs in North Florida.

Nature can teach us many things.  We just need to stop and look.

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