Then and Now

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By Nancy Luong

We have made lots of progress ever since we first started the project. The rooftop was barren when we first arrived on the roof in September, and now it is a thriving work in progress.

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Looking at the same area side by side in two month’s time really shows you our progress, and how much work there is left to do. But I am hopeful that these plants will flourish come spring and fall next year alongside the green walls.

In the very, very beginning back in September we propagated plants and did so every so often throughout the months. As an environmental studies major, I do not know much about plants, so this was a new experience for me. I didn’t know that root hormones were used to make new plants. I thought that the plants bred on their own with seeds. A week later we installed the membrane, and the following two weeks were spent on installing the roof tiles. They are tough ones to push together and install properly! We had to use hammers, planks of wood, and brute kicking force to get the tiles as close as possible together.

Starting on the second week of October, we started working on our modules. These modules are plastic and have gravel as the drainage medium. On top of the gravel is a filter layer, and roof media sits on top of that. The filter layer is to keep the roof media from leeching out into the gravel layer where it can escape through the holes in the module. The team divided up into three lines. One worked on assembling the modules with gravel and the filter later, another worked on filling the module with the roof media outside because there was lots of dust, and the last group loaded the trays onto the roof. Often times, we were short handed and had to do all three parts, but it was not a big deal.

We assembled all of the modules on top of the roof by the first week of November and started planting then. The installation of the irrigation system took place when I was not present. Now is the end of November and the beginning of December, and the current state of our roof is still a work in progress. On November 30th, my group went up to the top of Langford and made our contribution. This day of planting was no different than the previous ones because we were working with the same species. The only difference is that we were planting bluebonnets! I heard from two separate students, Greg and Tess, that these flowers do well in poor soil so we should see the beautiful blossoms soon enough. I also heard from professor Dvorak that one of the species is aimed towards bringing butterflies to the rooftop. In fact, while we were planting, a nice white butterfly paid us a visit.

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I have gained experience in the amount of effort it takes to create a green roof and about plants during my time in this directed study. There are no other classes I could take that would come close to this type of hands-on experience, so I do envy the students who will take the course next semester and build upon what we started. One day I hope to come back and visit the green roof in hopes of seeing a luscious garden!

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