A Green Roof Day in New York

April 25, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Much like Tarzan, King Kong and Crocodile Dundee I look out of place in New York.  I am a country boy by both birth and disposition.  So when I got a call from The Martha Stewart Show to be a guest on their Earth Day show I knew if I accepted I would have to be in Manhattan for a day or two and I would just have to make the most of it and find a way through my discomfort of urban spaces.

I got into New York Sunday afternoon and met Andrea Mason who produces the gardening segments of the Martha Stewart Show.  We worked through the afternoon preparing for the next day’s show.  We talked through the green roof mock-up and planted some areas of the roof and left other to plants on the show.  Geoff Rosen, the producer of the show stopped by to talk about the segment and frame some questions and other logistics.  Before we knew it four hours had gone by.  It’s amazing how much work eight minutes of television takes.

I called my friend Patrick Cullina in Brooklyn to see if he had time to hang out.  Patrick was recently Vice President of Horticulture and Park Operations at the High Line and was formerly Vice President of Horticulture and Science at Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Patrick is a great plantsman but also a serious basketball fan as am I.  We talked urban horticulture and hoops over hip food (menus with more adjectives than nouns) in Greenwich Village.

I woke early Monday morning and walked down to the High Line.  I hadn’t seen it since the second phase had been completed and before 8 AM it was already bustling both with people and with plants.  The redbuds were in bloom with foamflower fizzing under them.  It was like spring time in the Smokeys but with a cityscape as a backdrop.

Angie Durhman from Tecta America was in New York by chance – we had talked a couple days earlier and she offered to take me to see the USPS Morgan Processing and Distribution Center roof, some 67,000 sq.ft. of extensive roof.  I jumped at the chance, but I had to be at the Martha Stewart studio by noon so it was a quick visit.

It was well worth it.  In contrast to the High Line, the USPS roof is a simple, easy landscape.  I enjoy the complexity of the High Line but I also enjoy the elegance of a properly maintained extensive green roof.  I saw Columbia University’s weather station up there and thought, these are the kind of roofs we need to measure.

Off to the studio and to very foreign scenes to me like a green room, hair and make-up, a very busy crew of people moving in all directions and finally the stage manager comes to get me and place me on my spot for the segment and then eight minutes of green roof talk with Martha Stewart and then off stage and done.

The people on the show could not have been nicer or more professional and it’s clear there is a real environmental concern at the show from top to bottom.

See the 5:25 The Martha Stewart Show Earth Day Show video clip here.

Happily, I was in car and through the Holland Tunnel before rush hour.  As I merged onto the New Jersey Turnpike, I thought I was happy to have taken the chance to go to New York but happier still to head back to the farm.

~ Ed Snodgrass
ed.snodgrass@greenroofplants.com