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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Dead or Alive

Kyle and Jenna note the living and dead plants within
a plot on the green roof.
Today is survey day.  Kyle Bolenbaugh, the Master's student in Botany studying survivability of the plants on the green roof, is determining which plants survived the winter (and the hectic summer before it).

To do this, Kyle meticulous goes through random plots in different parts of the green roof, and identifies all of the plants within it as well as whether it's alive or dead.  Jenna then marks it down on a spreadsheet.  This is done over the course of multiple years (this is his second survivability count), which allows us to determine survivability over the long term.

Why do we care?

The Berry Prairie is an unusual green roof.  Instead of covering it with a few species of sedum, as is quite common, we went out on a limb to see if we could mimic a prairie, and used 62 species of flowers, grasses and shrubs in the process.  

There are a few other places that have done this (the Church of Latter Day Saints Conference Center in Salt Lake City is one), and we want to be able to say - with data backing our statement - that this strategy does or doesn't work for green roof design.

Heck, if these plants were able to survive being dug up, hauled out to the golf course, plopped there for a couple of months, and replanted just before fall arrived last year, they might be the hardiest of the hardy, and ones we can recommend for use on other green roofs.

For example, Oregon grape (Mahonia repens) and knicknick/bearberry (Arctostaphylus uva-ursi) is very common in natural settings, but completely croaked on the green roof.  Who woulda known?

The Grand Experiment continues - stay tuned for results!

Written by Brenna Marsicek, Biodiversity Institute

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