Happy Earth Day 2010!

April 22, 2010 at 11:15 am

Happy Earth Day 2010!   It’s the 40th anniversary of observing this date, and April has been unofficially dubbed Earth Month, too, in its honor.   April is also Landscape Architecture Month, a fitting selection for a profession so dedicated to respecting the Earth through responsible environmental design.

So how am I celebrating Earth Day and Month?   Well, you know we started our first annual “Love the Earth! Plant a Roof Earth Day Photo Contest”  – it’s open until April 28 for entering your favorite living roof and for voting.   By the way, there’s one clear early leader so far with over 200 votes!   Get your friends and colleagues to vote for your roof shot now.   We’ll announce the winner on April 30.

My hands-on project involves a local area  Daisy Troop – eleven young girls aged 7 and 8 who attend Birmingham Falls Elementary  in Milton, Georgia.   Their Girl Scout Leader, mom Sandra Nichols, contacted me a while back about speaking to the troop about the greenroof I designed at Rock Mill Park  in Alpharetta, GA.   The girls are working towards one of their badges, the  Clover Project, which involves preserving and protecting a local treasure and saving resources.   Since Sandra had been to the park before, she felt this would be a great learning opportunity to present the greenroof idea to the girls to educate them about saving water and reducing energy usage.

By the way, our Student Intern, Caroline Menetre – below, and I had just been up to the roof last week, doing routine weeding and taking notes to see which plants had fared well and which ones didn’t – more on that later.

Being a mom of three myself, and now a grandmom, of course I said yes!   I met with them this past Tuesday and had a blast speaking about rain water, stormwater, and an introduction to greenroofs to this lively and rambunctious group.   They especially loved touching all the plants in our four Greenroof Trial Garden tabletops – and they all got to try the garlicky Alliums in the Non-native Module!

I’ll be following up with them at their school this upcoming Tuesday to help them plant two 2′ x 2′ x 4″ greenroof modules of their own – both Green Roof Blocks and GreenGrid  donated a module each, which will be on display at the school for all the children to have hands-on experience and learn about different types of greenroof plants.   Thanks to Kelly Luckett of Green Roof Blocks, and Jim Lindell and Greg Harper of GreenGrid!   I should add a thanks to GreenTech as well – they offered their larger 4′ x 4′ x 8 1/2″ module, but it was decided  two smaller modules placed in two locations would better serve the students.

Also, Bobby Saul of Saul Nurseries  here in Atlanta and Alpharetta, GA, is donating the plants for both modules, as well as the growing media from ItSaul Natural.   After my little talk, I presented each girl with her own greenroof plant from Saul Nurseries to take home – a beautiful green  Jovibarba ‘Green Carpet’ –  succulent and spiky!   You know how kids like to touch things, well, they loved these!

I know that many of you are passionate about protecting the planet, and hopefully you are doing something this April to honor our land.   I’ll leave with this quote:

“Only within the moment of time represented by the present century has one species – man – acquired significant power to alter the nature of his world.” ~ Rachel Carson

~ Linda V.

Enter the “Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!” Earth Day Photo Contest

April 14, 2010 at 11:09 pm

Some of you may recall back a couple of years ago that Greenroofs.com was a semi-finalist in a competition from The Green on the Sundance Channel called “What’s the Big Idea?” Contest with our 60-second video “Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!”  While we didn’t win, the tag line stuck with me – simple and direct.  April 22, 2010 marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day and we are excited to honor Earth Day, really the entire Earth Month of April, with our first photo contest ever!

The “Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!” Photo Contest is designed to be quick, simple, and fun.  Any and all types of greenroofs are eligible, any place on Earth.  Send us* your favorite shot of that special greenroof which graphically epitomizes its relationship to our planet – how it is a living example of loving the Earth.  We’ll be keeping everyone updated on Greenroofs.com with a special page for all the contest photos, and on Twitter.

Tell us how it is a living example in 285 characters or less for the write up on the Love the Earth, Plant a Roof! Voting Page next to your thumbnail photo to let people why they should vote for this particular project and you.  Include a photo source/credit, not part of the 285 count.

For the Greenroofs.com tweet, pare it down to the meat and bones in 120 characters for all to see (we need 20 characters for the link to your photo – so people can click and vote immediately!). Don’t follow us on Twitter yet?  Do so here.

Here’s an example for inspiration – this precious child is my own grandson, Nicky, at The Greenroof Pavilion and Trial Gardens of Rock Mill Park here in Alpharetta, Georgia, USA:

Example tweet @ 120 characters:

Vote Rock Mill Park! The design honors the land & Cherokee heritage with hands-on models & signage for young and old.

The contest is open to everyone, not just the roof owner or the designers of record.  And voting is open to everyone, too, as many times as you like, so tell your friends to vote for your submission!

Entries will be accepted today and voting will be open to everyone until Wednesday, April 28 at 5:00 p.m. EST – but, of course, you’ll increase your chances of receiving the most votes by entering early!  Enter now and rally your forces – don’t delay.

Vote as often as you wish by clicking on your selected photo.  Include your real name and contact info or it will be discarded.

The winner will be announced on the last day of Earth Month, Friday, April 30, 2010, in our Top 10 List for the “Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!” Photo Contest.  The winner will have “their” project highlighted on Greenroofs.com as an upcoming Greenroof Project of the Week and we’ll feature you in a Sky Gardens interview so you can really tell us more about this living roof and why you love it so much.

And, as a humble token of our esteem, the winner will also receive your choice of a $100 gift card to either The Home Depot or Lowe’s for your spring projects or just a good old fashioned check!

Some requirements:

  • ~ You can enter as often as you wish, but only one photo per project for the Contest (send more photos and project description for the blog post if you win, but send the contest photo clearly identified as such).
  • ~ It has to be a real project, no Photoshopping!
  • ~ Didn’t take the photo yourself?  Make sure you credit the source and check for any copyright issues – we’re not liable!
  • ~ Don’t break any laws or bones while taking the photos!
  • ~ Minimum size: 491 x 367
  • ~ And, obviously, by submitting the photo you agree to its being published.

* Include your real name and contact information; a 120-character including spaces description for the tweet starting with “Vote (Name of Project)!…”; a 285-character including spaces (or less) description for the write up including Name of Project, City, State, and/or Country; any additional photos in case you win, but that can come later.

Submit away and good luck – start telling your friends now!  Vote for your favorite here on the Love the Earth, Plant a Roof! Voting Page.

Happy Greening for the Earth, ~ Linda V.

GPW: Forest Park Forever Playground, the Dennis & Judith Jones Variety Wonderland

April 2, 2010 at 11:59 pm

 

Our GPW is the Dennis and Judith Jones Variety Wonderland, a delightful children’s playground in historic Forest Park, St. Louis, Missouri.   One of the largest urban parks in the United States, Forest Park opened in 1876 and is the former site of The World’s Fair of 1904, drawing more than 20 million visitors from around the world.   At 1,293 acres (5.2 km ²), Forest Park is over 50% larger than New York’s Central Park (843 acres or 3.41 km ²)!

Home to the region’s major cultural institutions””the Zoo, Art Museum, History Museum, Science Center and the Muny Opera, today Forest Park attracts more than 12 million visitors a year.   It also serves as a sports center for all kinds of  activities and the park serves as a natural oasis for the city (see a Visitor’s Guide here).

The Dennis and Judith Jones Variety Wonderland is the City of St. Louis’ first inclusive public playground.   Designed in 2005 so that all children, able-bodied children and children with disabilities, could experience playtime together, it all began with feedback from a local organization: the Variety Family Council.   Now Variety, the Children’s Charity of St. Louis,  they couldn’t find a public playground where their children with disabilities could play with their siblings – and so a saga was born.    Variety  serves children with physical and mental disabilities in the region from infancy to the age of 21. Variety Week is April 17-24, 2010, and serves as a means to maximize awareness and fund-raising opportunities to benefit community children.

“We wanted this to be a place open to all children,” said Jan Albus, executive director of St. Louis Variety. “The most important thing was that it make it so children with disabilities could play right along with all other children.”

Three years, seven local donors, and a lot of hard work later, the $2 million state-of-the-art playground design includes 29 pieces of equipment on a soft, porous 10,100 sf surface.   The Dennis and Judith Jones Variety Wonderland playground is divided into  five sections designed according to age, physical strength and abilities.

“First Adventures” is  for children ages 2-5 and  “Big Adventures” for children ages 6 to 12.    Specialty areas are the “Observation Relaxation Deck,” “Living Shelter,” and the “Secret Garden.”   The Secret Garden contains 14 colorful perennials that attract, feed and house butterflies.   Learning stones will teach children about the life cycle of Monarchs here amidst the natural habitat.

Constructed to ADA standards for handicap accessibility, equipment includes a slide for children with cochlear implants, Braille and clock panels for the blind, talk phones, surface fountains and 8′ high ramping so children can experience a tree house affect.   You’ll also find a spyro slide, double slide, corkscrew climber, swings with bucket seats, spring pods, disc swing monkey bars with a vertical ladder, a pipe barrier with a steering wheel, and more.
 

This all-inclusive playground is located adjacent to the Dennis and Judith Jones Visitor and Education Center.   Formerly the Lindell Pavilion, it was built in 1892 as a shelter for streetcar passengers, and after a $4 million restoration, the facility is now home to Forest Park Forever, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to raising private funds for the restoration of Forest Park.

Kelly Luckett, LEED AP, GRP, and President of Green Roof Blocks (and one of our contributing editors, also known as “The Green Roof Guy“), was responsible for the lovely modular  greenroof atop the walkway pavilion that connects from the Visitor and Education Center and greets children to the play area.   I asked him how he became involved with Forest Park Forever, and he replied:

“I did a lunch and learn for Powers Bowersox Associates, a St. Louis architectural firm.   After lunch, they showed me the preliminary sketches of the project and said they wanted to do a green roof on the structure so that it better fit into the green landscape of Forest Park.   They liked the portability of the modular concept that allowed us to pre-grow modules so the plants were more mature for the dedication ceremony.”

The roof is constructed of 60 mil reinforced EPDM fully adhered to poly-isocyanurate over metal deck, and 76 Green Roof Blocks were grown offsite  at Jost Greenhouses for approximately 10 weeks allowing the plants to mature to 80% coverage at the time of installation.

Green Roof Blocks are low-maintenance, self contained, portable units consisting of a 24″ x 24″ module fabricated of heavy gauge anodized aluminum.   Walk pad material is fastened to the bottom, serving both to protect the roofing surface and to allow drainage under the Green Roof Blocks.  The walk pad material used is procured from the manufacturer of the building owner’s roofing system to insure compatibility and warranty integrity.

Powers Bowersox  did not like the look of the sides of the aluminum modules and they requested Kelly  to design a sheet metal trim piece that could be painted to match the edging of the roof, so a  red  metal skirt was installed at  the Forest Park playground  around the perimeter Blocks.

Remarkably, from a survival point of view (let alone plant diversity), the Green Roof Blocks were propagated with a  single  Sedum floriferum  cultivar  named ‘Weihenstephaner Gold,’ which performs beautifully in USDA Heat Zones 3-7.   Although quite  luscious in its profusion of yellow  and pink-hued summer blossoms (see above in flower from last spring 2009) as well as being  and very effective and successful, it was the company’s  last foray into  a mono-crop green roof palette.    As current policy, Green Roof Blocks  since uses multi-species for all projects.   Kelly explains:

“The plant species was selected for the evergreen characteristics, though we have since moved away from single species planting strategies for our green roof projects.   Only having one plant species planted on a green roof leaves the project vulnerable to weather anomalies or species specific pest that could affect the entire green roof.   We now plant at least five different species within each module.  This strategy establishes a diverse eco system more closely mimicking what we see in nature.   The plants on this project continue to thrive in part because the green roof plants have been included in the hundreds of thousands of plants that are under the constant watchful eye of the Forest Park Forever horticulturists.”

The growing media here  is a 4″ deep blend of 80% red lava rock and 20% composted pine bark.  The plants were initially fertilized using Scotts Osmocote with a 12 to 14 month release.   Kelly says that each year  since, he has  picked up Vic  (of Jost Greenhouses) and driven to each of their St. Louis green roof projects for maintenance and assessment.

“We give each one the spring feeding of slow release fertilizer, the plants get inspected by the trained eye of horticulturist Vic Jost, and I get a chance to get fresh photos of another year of plant growth.   We do not provide routine maintenance on our projects in other parts of the country.   Our St. Louis customers find this added perk to be a nice touch,”   Kelly Luckett adds.

Kelly says he is pleased that some stakeholders even make it a point to be present so they can discuss the project with Vic and  himself, and looks forward to  their  maintenance visit  each year.   So for almost five years, this simple vegetated roof has not only survived with minimal maintenance, by all accounts it has flourished quite nicely.

Aramis and I had the opportunity to visit  the stunning Park Forest grounds and this beautiful playground in late June of 2006 when I was invited by Dr. Bill Retzlaff  of Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, IL (SIUE) and Kelly Luckett to speak at the SIUe Green Roof Symposium.   By the way, Kelly is also the author of “Green Roof Construction and Maintenance” (GreenSource Books), 2009 from The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  – a great resource, full of detailed, useful information for all of us.

Kelly and his wife Trish played wonderful hosts to us and showed off their lovely city by highlighting the Forest Park Forever playground, where I found a very cool drinking fountain feature, above, and also taking us to many attractions – the  iconic image of St. Louis –  the Gateway Arch, a Cardinals baseball game, and  the awesome and sometimes surreal  glass-blown designs of Dale Chihuly at the Missouri Botanical Gardens “Glass in the Garden” exhibition, below.

Forest Park is really a midwestern gem – a peaceful place to relax and reflect in a lush, green space filled with water, trees and sky.    As we all know, playtime is one of the strongest teachers and in such a fun and accessible environment, children will learn naturally about various forms of diversity, disability and acceptance while developing increased strength, coordination, confidence and social skills.

I had the pleasure of seeing kids of all ages and abilities benefit  while playing in this charming and educational wonderland, and I sure had a good time, too!

An important urban oasis  of green within metro St. Louis,  Forest Park  offers a respite for migrating birds and butterflies, and an integrated ecosystem where humans and nature interact – especially on one albeitly  small playground and its simple greenroof.

~ Linda V.

Earth Hour 2010

March 25, 2010 at 11:58 pm

Where will you be at Earth Hour 2010?   When is that, you say?   Easy:   Always the last Saturday in March or this Saturday, March 27, 2010 at 8:30 p.m. local, wherever.

What is that?   Earth Hour is  a movement sponsored by the international conservation organization WWF to bring attention to energy waste and global warming.   Since its inception three years ago, Earth Hour’s non-partisan approach has captured the world’s imagination and became a global phenomenon.   Nearly one billion people turned out for Earth Hour 2009 – involving 4,100 cities in 87 countries on seven continents.  

Aramis and  I  here at Greenroofs.com have been observing Earth Hour since 2008 when we had a lovely dinner and played cards by candlelight.   We also blacked out a portion of our Home Page to commemorate the event.   We’ve now gotten our grown kids and their friends to join in!

So why don’t you  sign up, spread the word, and switch off your lights, too!   You’ll be in good company:   So far 30 U.S. States, Washington D.C. and 150 other municipalities are officially supporting Earth Hour.   In fact, 3,100 cities in 121 countries on all seven continents are confirmed to turn off their lights on Saturday, March 27, 2010  at 8:30 p.m. local time.

Is Earth Hour the answer to our rampant energy consumption and dependency on oil?   No, of course not.    The website states:

“On Earth Hour hundreds of millions of people around the world will come together to call for action on climate change by doing something quite simple””turning off their lights for one hour. The movement symbolizes that by working together, each of us can make a positive impact in this fight, protecting our future and that of future generations.”

At best it  serves as a call to action and commitment to cleaner air, evolving into a more enlightened society, finding alternative ways to power our planet.   At least it can serve us to becoming  more aware of our actions, one hour at a time.

Happy Earth Hour 2010! ~ Linda and Aramis V.