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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Par for the Course

Yesterday we took a trip out to the Jacoby Golf Course in Laramie, where the 4,400 plants from the green roof were taken for temporary lodging which the roof is being revamped.  Like the rest of the country, Laramie has struggled with drought this summer and keeping the plants alive in a drought, in pots, in an open, exposed area, and in an odd environment in which plants are subjected to random incoming golf balls, is a challenge.

Plots of Pots

As you learned in Kyle's overview of the green roof removal process, each plant on the roof was placed into individual pots to prevent roots from growing together and us having to rip them apart when they are replanted on the roof.  

There are ten groupings of plants at the golf course, which represent the ten sections of the green roof from which the plants were systematically removed and labeled.

Making It Rain

Overhead irrigation is necessary to supplement the natural (practically non-existent) rainfall.  Plants are watered more than they would be on the green roof because they're in pots.  Soil in pots warm up faster than it does in the ground, and soil in the ground allows for seepage sideways and up and down - pots don't share their water.

Par for the Course

Overall, the plants are quite dry.  Some have shriveled up and died, leaving no trace except a pot full of bare soil.  Grasses are crispy, cushion plants are brown, Oregon grape is all but extinct in this small population.  But as Dorothy said, the green roof plants faring no worse than the prairie plants outside of Laramie.

Some of the plants, like the cacti, Erigeron, Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum) and Rocky Mountain Penstemon (Penstemon strictus) are doing rather well despite their hardships.  In fact, the Liatris (Liatris punctata) is even flowering in its new setting - it hadn't on the green roof before!

Cacti don't mind!  Heck, they're built for this.

Surprisingly, the Geum have started to resprout rather happily in their new setting.

Liatris is blooming amongst the grasses

But really, if plants can survive this ridiculous situation, they're the toughest of the tough, the best choices for a green roof and for a xeriscaped garden in the Rocky Mountain west.  The plan is to start reinstalling the plants on the green roof on August 27.  More soon!

Written by Brenna Wanous Marsicek, Berry Center

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