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The Evolution of LiveRoof: Forbs

on August 7, 2023 at 1:49 pm under , , ,

The Evolution of LiveRoof: Forbs

LiveRoof, LLC is a West Michigan Company that developed the LiveRoof® Hybrid Green Roof System: the only green roof solution installed with fully mature plants thriving in a healthy, connected ecosystem from day one of installation. LiveRoof’s natural function and natural beauty offer exceptional performance, require very low maintenance and have a predictable cost. LiveRoof projects often become signature elements on commercial, public, university and school buildings all over the US and Canada.

I am Doni Burton, Business Development Specialist for LiveRoof Global, LLC. It is my privilege to interview amazing people from our LiveRoof Network this year. My main responsibility as business development specialist is working with LiveRoof Global Growers and their customers. Previously, I completed my doctor of education in 2019 and most of my career was in educational administration. I have also taught for many years as a university professor, but working at LiveRoof has taught me about the incredible benefits provided by green roofs. My hope is that this series of interviews will nurture the environmental and horticultural interests of each reader.

This year LiveRoof celebrates its 16th year and we are doing so with a year-long theme: The Evolution of the Green Roof. Specifically, we will focus on LiveRoof Growers, Products, Processes and Plants. Please enjoy this second interview in the series. Additional interviews to follow include: Grasses as Green Roof Plants, and The Evolution of Biodiversity in Green Roofs.

I spoke with Tom Hawkins, owner of Florasource Ltd., a well-known and respected horticultural supply firm in Southern California. Tom has owned this company for 38 years and has been a licensed LiveRoof partner for 15 years. While it is true that Tom has the knowledge and experience to speak on all aspects related to green roofs, this interview will use his connection to forbs (broad leaved plants) as a focus, and I will ask Tom to share what he sees as the future with forbs and the green roof industry.

Getting to Know Tom Hawkins
In order to appreciate Tom’s knowledge and experiences, we must first learn about his history and path to success.

“Years ago, we provided a range of western native grasses for a large green roof in Salt Lake City. That project was my first time on a green roof, and that visit and subsequent visits to that roof somehow just spoke to me. Not too long after that installation I met horticulturist, Dave MacKenzie at a tradeshow, and he mentioned he was starting a new company called LiveRoof. One discussion led to another, and we have been representing LiveRoof in California for 15 years now.”

Florasource Ltd.
Tom takes a different approach for growing LiveRoof than other LiveRoof growers.

“As a grower during my early years in the nursery industry, I liked the challenges involved in plant production including sourcing materials, crop scheduling, and learning to grow new types of plants. I also liked the technical side of growing, and the teamwork that is essential in the production process.

Our company, Florasource Ltd., is not a grower but is a horticultural supply firm. For the past 38 years we have represented over 50 specialty propagation nurseries, providing young plants and supporting services to production nurseries in our region.

As the LiveRoof portion of our business has grown, we now partner with two long-time California based Florasource-customers in the production of LiveRoof modules. This production is similar to growing nursery crops, but with some additional considerations and challenges that come with producing plants for green roofs.”

The Role of Forbs on Green Roofs
“Early on, most of our green roofs were sedum roofs. But, over the years we have seen a developing interest in meadow themes, initially with grasses only, and eventually with both grasses and forbs, and some of these also include sedums. Initially the focus was on adding seasonal color, but over time we have seen an increasing interest in the inclusion of native pollinator plants, leading to some wonderful projects that provide for habitat replacement in addition to other green roof benefits.”

Why It Matters
Wherever there is a building, there was once nature (e.g., forest, meadow, prairie), and piece by piece we are doing away with nature via development. Will we eliminate development? Probably not. But biodiverse green roofs can help compensate by putting nature on the roof for pollinators and birds.

A Promising Future
Tom and his company have the experience and knowledge to assist local designers in the specification of specific plant communities for biodiverse green roofs. Tom and the rest of the Florasource Ltd team are key partners for LiveRoof as we endeavor to rebalance the constructed and natural world.

This is the third in the series: The Evolution of LiveRoof its People, Products, Processes and Plants. We hope you enjoy the series throughout this year. The next interview will focus on Forbs and will publish at the end of June. I’m Doni Burton, Business Development Specialist for LiveRoof Global. I can be reached via email at

Read more about this post: and you can read the previous articles in this series, Part 1: LiveRoof’s founder, Dave MacKenzie, and Part 2: Sedums for Green Roofs.

Based in Spring Lake, Michigan, LiveRoof® Global, LLC ( is the top horticultural science company in the green roof industry. Exceptional in design and function, the LiveRoof® Hybrid Green Roof System is the proven green roof system. LiveRoof establishes a healthy, sustainable ecosystem covering rooftops with seamless vegetation. Licensed regional growers customize plant selection for every LiveRoof project. They deliver the system's modules abundantly vegetated with locally cultivated, full-grown plants for an instant green roof and trouble-free ownership.

Visit LiveRoof Global, LLC in the Directory

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