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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Berry Prairie Remodel!

This summer, the Berry Prairie will be undergoing an overhaul!  We are in the final planning stages of designing the green roof remodel, and hope to start in the beginning of July.  The new green roof will include many of the same plants, plus others that are native to within 200 miles of Laramie, but will have a very different look.

Whaaaa?  It's only 3 years old!

A few of you might be looking at this screen thinking YOU CRAZY UNIVERSITY PEOPLE!  YOU JUST PLANTED IT!  And of course we are slightly cooky, but this is for a good reason.

A little backstory (if you know it, skip down to the next section)

The green roof was installed in June 2011, with 4,400 plants native to the Laramie area (within 25 miles or so).  The plants did splendidly the first summer and winter, and in spring 2012, we had lost only 7% (or 308) of the plants.

Berry Prairie, June 2011

Then during the spring of 2012, the company that installed the green roof came back to put in the leak monitoring system, and accidentally cut through both membranes of the roof that separate the soil, water and plants from the room below.  This caused a major water problem, resulting in the removal of all of the plants, soil and layers of the roof until the problem was fix.  

Berry Prairie, August 2012

All of the plants hung out on the golf course in the meantime. 

Berry Prairie Refugees, August 2012

Then, once fixing the roof was complete, they all went back on.  Which means the plants had been transplanted a total of three times (first into the roof in 2011, then into pots in 2012, then into the roof again in 2012).  This transplant shock is what we think killed approximately HALF of our plants.

2013 was a rough year for the green roof.  Ugly and boring.  Boo. 

Berry Prairie, August 2013

Fortunately, we had leftover funds from the building construction project that we could use on building-related expenses.  And we have a team of dedicated Berry Prairie enthusiasts that want to make this place simply awesome.  So we decided to take this as an opportunity to rethink how the green roof looks and functions, and replace the dead plants in the process.

Remodel Plans

With the help of Allison Fluery out of Jackson and Mark Fusco out of Denver, we have big plans for the Berry Prairie.  The new edition of the green roof will have more topography and vertical interest.  We'll install two large berms that will reach 2 feet above the current soil level, and we have dwarf trees and more shrubs on the plant list.  The plants will come from a broader geographic range, but will still be local to the Rocky Mountain region.  We will have three distinct zones: plains, foothills and alpine.  And much more!!  I wish I could share every detail of the plans with you!

But that's all you get for now.  Stay tuned for more information and updates!

Written by Brenna Marsicek, Biodiversity Institute

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