A Rooftop Garden

A Rooftop Garden

Part of Ep. 1101 Garden Style

Tour a rooftop garden in downtown Madison. Designed by Ann Walker of Homeland Garden, the garden moderates temperatures and controls runoff.

Premiere date: Mar 01, 2003

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
We are three stories up in the middle of a beautiful rooftop garden. We're in downtown Madison, just off the capitol square. I'm with one of the designers Ann Walker. Anne, you and Mike of Homeland Garden designed this entire rooftop garden. Is that correct?

Anne:
We did.

Shelley:
I assume you probably had a lot of effort getting stuff up to this third floor. Why go through all the effort?

Anne:
It's a really important space, in that it helps to keep the building cooler during the summer, also warmer during the winter. It also helps to prevent rain from running off. And it also helps to keep the city itself cooler.

Shelley:
So, in general, we should all be planting more roof-top gardens, then.

Anne:
It'd be great.

Shelley:
You said the building was designed specifically with this in mind when they built it.

Anne:
It was. You have to take into account that the garden, the soil itself and the combination of water has a good amount of weight to it. It can get heavy.

Shelley:
So, what did they have to do to take that into consideration?

Anne:
There's a special roofing membrane underneath, there's a waterproof membrane and then there's almost an eggshell membrane that keeps the water moving. Then, there's also really light rocks on top of that. And then, there's a soil-less mix on top of that.

Shelley:
Okay, so all of that for this beautiful spot. Let's look at some of the plants you've planted here. That looks like Lambs Ears, but it's three times the size of mine.

Anne:
This is incredibly happy Lambs Ears.

Shelley:
This is a perennial. Are most of the things here perennials?

Anne:
There's a mix of annuals, perennials and self-seeding annuals.

Shelley:
What is this gorgeous thing, here?

Anne:
This is an annual. It can self-seed, depending upon the season. This is annual Milkweed.

Shelley:
Wow! It is as popular with the butterflies as the perennial?

Anne:
It really is, and also, hummingbirds.

Shelley:
And you also mentioned a couple of unusual Artemesias. This is definitely unusual.

Anne:
This is a beauty. This is Artemesia vulgaris Oriental Limelight. And it does have that beautiful green and yellow-ish foliage.

Shelley:
It looks very happy up here, too.

Anne:
It's incredibly happy.

Shelley:
What's the other one?

Anne:
The other one is Artemesia lactiflora "Guizhou," but that's back there. That's a really nice Artemesia in that it doesn't run, it just stays in a clump.

Shelley:
So, it behaves. And it doesn't look at all like any of the Artemesias I've ever planted.

Anne:
It's a really elegant plant.

Shelley:
I also see Black-Eyed Susan around here. How is that doing in this environment?

Anne:
It loves it up here. It self seeds freely. We actually have extra that we just kind of till into the soil.

Shelley:
Let's look at a couple more up here. What are these?

Anne:
This is Caper Spurge. It's a Euphorbia. It's a wonderful architectural influence. We also have the Talinum or the Jewels of Opar right next to it.

Shelley:
That's one I'm experimenting with for the first time this year, because it's apparently a very old-fashioned plant. So, I'm anxious to see how it does.

Anne:
It's very interesting. And also, both of these plants, in an environment that a Moss Rose would like, they'll self-seed.

Shelley:
You said this is a soil-less mix that we're looking at here?

Anne:
It is a soil-less mix. And one of the challenges of a soil-less mix is that it can get compacted. So, we've gone to a bait shop and we got worms. And because it is soil-less, we got the red wriggler, which likes the organic matter. And we also have green manures that we will use in the soil. We'll chop off the top of the plant so that the root stays intact. And then I'll take, actually, the top or the green part, and I'll dig a little hole and I'll put it in there.

Shelley:
So, you're almost doing like miniature composting to enrich the soil with this.

Anne:
We really are.

Shelley:
What are some of the other challenges?

Anne:
Heat can be an issue. We have buildings that can kind of hold that in here. Also, winds can be quite a challenge up here. And then, during the spring, and also later in fall, the sun actually gets snipped off by the buildings. And so, it can be a cooler environment up here.

Shelley:
Anything special you take into consideration, then, an extra special mulch in the winter to help this stuff survive?

Anne:
We use evergreen boughs. That's also a nice choice for up here because of the winds.

Shelley:
Let's look at one last plant combination. I caught this one out of the corner of my eye. Look at this. It's glows.

Anne:
This is a fabulous combination, and it's really easy, low maintenance. It's the Fanflower and also the Helichrysum "Limelight."

Shelley:
These are gorgeous. Anne, thank you so much for touring this garden with me.

Anne:
Thanks a lot.

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