Beloit Memorial Hospital's Rooftop Garden

Beloit Memorial Hospital's Rooftop Garden

Part of Ep. 1705 Raising the Roof

Shelley Ryan visits a lush rooftop garden at Beloit Memorial Hospital. Just two years ago it was a barren third-floor, rock-covered space. Executive Director of Beloit Memorial Hospital Foundation Ann Sitrick tells the story of the garden.

Premiere date: Jul 22, 2009

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
Isn't this beautiful? This a lovely garden. It'd be a great place for lunch. But surprise! We're actually three stories up. We are in the air at Beloit Memorial Hospital. I'm with the executive director of the Beloit Memorial Hospital Foundation, Ann Sitrick.

Ann:
Good morning, welcome.

Shelley:
This is such a wonderful place to hang out. I understand you were instrumental in helping this garden come to be.

Ann:
That's absolutely correct. We're happy to welcome you to the Neese Memorial Garden.

Shelley:
It's named after some very special people.

Ann:
It is. The Neese family in Beloit had spent many years here. Ebbie Neese was chairman of the Beloit Corporation. He and his wife, Peggy were very close friends of the hospital. Peggy was an avid gardener. Absolutely loved it. So, when we were looking for an opportunity to expand on this space and make some changes we talked with their family. Unfortunately, both of them are now deceased. But we thought it would be an appropriate way to honor their memory. So, hence the name, the Neese Memorial garden.

Shelley:
What a wonderful memorial to anybody. This is beautiful. Who came up with the idea of a garden on the third floor of a hospital?

Ann:
That's probably been generated over a series of years. This originally was a flat roof that was comprised mostly of rocks.

Shelley:
So, kind of ugly.

Ann:
Pretty ugly. I think because our cafeteria is immediately adjacent to this space as people came up for lunch whether they were family, visitors, or patients.

Shelley:
They're looking out.

Ann:
"That's really ugly," and couldn't we do something. We agreed with them, but we had a wonderful opportunity in also addressing some needs that we had relative to our roof space. We had, in the rocks a series of things that collect moisture, whether it be rain or snow. It also reflected a lot of heat in the summertime so it was very warm. We had an opportunity here with the GreenGrid system was developed by a subsidiary of ABC Supply here in Beloit to make a change in that. This is patterned after the European gardens. So, we not only have a beautifully aesthetic space we also have one that functions very well as far as roofing material and is environmentally friendly.

Shelley:
The GreenGrid system is what enables you to put plants a garden and dirt up on top of the third floor.

Ann:
Correct.

Shelley:
I've heard that it helps reduce heating and cooling but it also helps with water runoff. Is that correct?

Ann:
It does. The plant beds that you see here collect the moisture that would be accumulating under our rocks, previously.

Shelley:
Sitting here.

Ann:
Instead, it goes to benefit the health and well-being of our plants. It helps these stay so wonderfully healthy. We also have an irrigation system here that supports that. The environmental portion allows us to prevent runoff and some waste water going into our waste treatment.

Shelley:
It does help with heating issues in the winter and cooling issues in the summer.

Ann:
It absolutely does, because of a membrane that's part of this whole roofing process. There's about a three-inch membrane that sits underneath and provide benefits to both the roof and the plants.

Shelley:
It also benefits to the people.

Ann:
Absolutely benefits to the people. In addition to being aesthetically beautiful I think it's very nice now that people have access to come out to this space and take a little break. Whether they're patients, families, or even our employees find that it's a wonderful place to come and breathe.

Shelley:
Well, and a lot of the rooms adjacent to this are patient rooms, right?

Ann:
They are patient rooms. We have a holistic approach to caring for our patients. I think when you have an opportunity to look out and see daylight and see beautiful flowers, it helps you get better quickly.

Shelley:
It's got to make, emotionally, it more cheering. I assume the cafeteria people are a little more happy now to look at this.

Ann:
They have a much more pleasant environment, absolutely.

Shelley:
How do the plants like it?

Ann:
Some like it very well, and others don't like it as much. Some of the day lilies, some of the roses some of our grasses, do very, very well here. Salvia does very well, as you can around the garden. Some of the plants that do not do as well are challenged by both the wind and the heat. We had some hanging baskets. We ordered some of those and had beautiful ones that couldn't survive no matter how much water or love that we gave them.

Shelley:
The hanging baskets are gone. Okay, so you've done some replanting and found a lot of the native plants. And the grasses are working better.

Ann:
They do work very well. They seem to be able to sustain the changes from a dramatic heat to all of this wonderful Wisconsin snow we've had in the last couple of winters.

Shelley:
Well, what does this system look like? If we were to scrape the mulch away, what's in here?

Ann:
Scraping the mulch away, you would find something that looks very similar to the flats of plants that you get when you go to the garden center and bring home your own plants. There are plastic bins that sit under here. The plants are planted in those then they're covered with mulch. That allows us, if we have an issue with the roof because after all, it is a roof first and foremost. When we have that issue, we can scrape back the mulch lift up the pan, then address the roof issue.

Shelley:
So it works for everybody involved.

Ann:
It's a win-win-win.

Shelley:
Thanks, Ann. Thanks for coming.

Shelley:
Next up, another rooftop garden, but this one's for the birds!

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