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Friday, June 24, 2011

Planting for Habitat, Planting for Education

Mason bee houses will be installed on the green roof.
Green roofs are also called living roofs, and we are really trying to maximize the meaning of that term. In addition to the plants that will be installed and cared for this summer, the Berry Center crew is also attending to other environmental components of the mini-ecosystem.

The various related endeavors will include:

  • Bee houses and water sources to attract and foster native pollinator populations. Native pollinators include a variety of bees, flies, butterflies, even small birds like hummingbirds, and others.

    To the right is an image of the mason bee houses before they are installed.
    Click here to learn more about the bees and their houses. Zach Tuthill, a UW student in Renewable Resources, is building six bumble bee rearing houses for the Berry Prairie as well - pictures coming soon!
  • A weather station to monitor and track temperature, precipitation, humidity, soil moisture, wind speeds, etc. This weather station will also be used by other facilities in the building, such as the Stable Isotopes Facility, for their research.
  • Tracking of nutrient retention and cycling. The green roof “soil” (really a soil-less planting medium) is currently being tested for macronutrients (nitrogen, potassium, carbon, etc.), and will be tested again at the end of the summer. Since this environment is isolated from the true ground, nutrient cycling will likely behave differently.
  • Tracking of matrix-level species, such as spiders and arthropods (beetles, for example) that make the green roof their home.
  • Creating a space for scientific exploration for young children and students. For example, a group of day care children from Cheyenne will observe pollinator sightings on the green roof, and submit the information to a Citizen Science program based in California.
  • Providing outreach to community members interested in native landscaping and pollinators. For example, the Berry Prairie is slated to be a stop on the Laramie Garden Club's garden tour highlighting "young" gardens this summer.
We can use your creative minds to expand this project even further. What are important green roof components that we can monitor during this first year and beyond?

Sunflowers growing in preparation for a Citizen Science project with children from Cheyenne in July.  The sunflowers won't be planted on the green roof, but they'll be  kept there for pollinator experiments.

Written by Brenna Wanous, Berry Center

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