September 21, 2008 at 11:21 am #176558
Does anyone have experience using organic plants in the US, especially in stressful situations like green roofs?
The idea that seems to be starting up over here in Europe is that they are the best plants to use in these stressful situations because they are not used to being so coddled and fertilized therefore can handle the abuse with a bit more ease. But it still seems to be a bit on the new side in the US and nurseries are a bit hard to come by. Anyone have any luck so far? Or perhaps tried to procure them?September 22, 2008 at 12:42 am #176574Les BallardParticipant
At the planning stage of anything you can get plants going for planting out later. Agricultural colleges, schools, etc. may help for free – though a teach in of involved staff so they can teach students/kids is a good idea.
You can get baulks between school playing fields set with membranes and organic compost (and wormeries to supply both fertiliser and worms later) and plan strips of sedums, moss, clover, grass, alpines, house leeks or whatever. When the strips are placed on the roof wanted, they are replaced with ordinary grass seed or turf and the school reimbursed for that cost. Alternatively, local authority nurseries may like to get involved.
Watering systems for such roof coverings may be appropriate using higher areas with tanks and gravity feeds using timers. Tanks can be topped up from mains or an underground grey water tank as necessary, or they can be used to water an upper area direct, with the electricity from a single yacht style wind turbine on a 12 or 24V system. You may not find a company to design/build such a system but it is not beyond the wit of amateurs with advice from tank sellers, seed merchants, etc. Just watch TV series Teletubbies and work out how that scene of undersground houses and turbine would need to work but maybe you should beware of cuddly, brightly coloured figures that only speak in monosyllables called dipsy, la-la or po!
Luv n Lite
Les BallardSeptember 22, 2008 at 7:36 am #176573Dorje Wangdu DelbouilleParticipant
Perhaps some interesting links for you there:September 22, 2008 at 4:23 pm #176572
Thanks Jason, I actually found the article too in my research. Seems the US is waiting for the consumer to really stand up and ask for organic. Maybe if we succeed in getting it into the specs we can help give that snowball a little nudge.
This questions stems from some things being done over here in Europe. It seems that organic plants used on roofs have a higher chance of survival due to their lack of being “coddled”, as I am told, meaning that they are not brought up on heavy doses of fertilizer therefore are almost prepped for the harsh conditions they would be going into on an extensive roof. Makes sense, no?
So even if a nursery isn’t organic, one that doesn’t use lots of fertilizers would even be great. We have contacted some nurseries in the state and one said they do grow organic, but are too small however have sent us to another nursery that is apparently happy to grow plants for us to spec. Cool! I’m excited at the thought of helping to support the use of organic plants. My dream is that our green roofs could be used as an educational tool too for the local university.
Michel, it is interesting that you should send me the link for the World Green Roof Congress as the person who is highly hyping the use of organic plants is on the speaker list for that conference 🙂September 23, 2008 at 1:27 am #176571Jay EverettParticipant
Even if you can’t get “organic” plants (I’m assuming this means that there is some sort of certification process) if you can just find native plants for your area then that is a BIG step in the right direction. From my perspective America is coming around to this “progressive” idea. Even here in Nashville in the middle of a huge “Red” state we have at least 7 native plant nurseries/growers.
This type of plant material simply wasn’t available here ten years ago.
My firm worked with one of these on an intensive greenroof/rooftop garden:
Although you seem more interested in extensive applications.
Most states have a native plant society, and most of those maintain a website full of helpful links.
But to bring it back to your topic, what’s your definition of organic? Compost grown, no chemical fertilizers?September 23, 2008 at 1:53 am #176570Nick PhillipsParticipant
what do you mean when you use the term “organic”, because it can have many meanings depending on whose using it?September 23, 2008 at 11:43 am #176569
Very true, organic truly does mean something different to many people. In my case I am looking for the “no chemical fertilizers” route. Does that mean I need the certification? No, nor would I find it as the industry isn’t quite there yet. Anyone have any luck with them internationally? Advice on what you learned?
Our approach so far is to contact native nurseries and ask them about their growing process. Besides the goal of planting healthier, heartier plants…putting a bunch of plants that are full of chemical fertilizers into an environment meant for stormwater cleansing just doesn’t seem right, don’t you think?
Actually, I’m working on both extensive and intensive roofs. The extensive roof is just proving to be the most difficult as the particular conditions are pretty harsh. Isn’t it amazing what is available these days versus say even 5 years ago? It’s so funny in a way because green roofs are still such a big deal in the US in terms of design and implementation. But since I am currently working out of Germany (but on US projects) and I walk around my small town neighborhood I am just amazed at what I can see within a matter of block. I literally pass solar panels, various types of green roofs and a wide variety of permeable paving options….all in a residential area that has no use for marketing strategies. It’s amazing how these types of technology aren’t even cutting edge here. My favorite one is the house that wants a place to park their car so they just throw some grass pave in their front yard. Ah, but I digress….back to organic plants….September 23, 2008 at 11:57 am #176568
Now this is a cool…here’s a couple blurbs I found on one nurseries page (Menzie’s Natives Nursery) that describes their practices:
We gather a lot of our own seeds and plant them here at the Nursery using soils consisting of native materials and organic amendments, having worked with and growing in our natural mediums. The Nursery makes it’s own soils by combining sand, bark, compost and mulch materials of forest refuse.
Although it takes more time to grow plants in an indigenous nursery, there are many advantages to this practice. A very important fact is that all plants spend at least one winter in the native setting before being sold, so clients are sure that the plant is hardy enough for Northwest Pacific weather patterns. Plants spend time cohabitating with other species which also makes them stronger, happier, and healthier.September 24, 2008 at 6:09 am #176567Jay EverettParticipant
It does make sense Lisa; I wonder what kind of scientific studies have been conducted on this topic.
If there are any MLA students reading this, I think Lisa has come up with a potentially award winning thesis topic. So you better give her credit. =)September 24, 2008 at 6:05 pm #176566
Scientific data would be great. Do organic plants do better in urban situations, especially stressful ones, than nursery stock with today’s typical practices?
Perhaps someone in the UK where these type of plants are more readily available…?September 24, 2008 at 6:35 pm #176565Jason ReiboldParticipant
I have been studying sustainable systems for awhile and am finishing up my degree in horticulture, but I still don’t understand your use of the word ‘organic.’ From reading your question a few times it seems that the use of organic plants is less relevant on a green roof than possibly native plants… or what I come in contact with a lot is ‘drought tolerant plants.’ The word organic gets tossed around a lot but depending on what you’re talking about it mean different things… I’ve worked on a few green roofs already and the main qualifications for plants in pretty much any zone are shallow roots, drought tolerant, succulents are great, grasses are good, and from a utilitarian point of view… herbs are nice! Hope this helps. jason.September 24, 2008 at 9:17 pm #176564
Sorry, I think you misunderstood my question. Although I’m not sure why the term organic is confusing since it is a standard term that nurseries get certifications for. I’m not talking about edibles here.
I’m not asking about actual plant selection as I have a plant list already, they are drought tolerant natives. My question is if anyone has experience using plants grown from an organic nursery (for arguments sake, we’ll say certified organic since my answer still is getting the question) and if they found such plants to work better than the same plants grown from a standard nursery. Say I am looking to find, for example, Sedum oreganum….and if I had the choice to buy this plant from a certified organic nursery versus a standard nursery…which would be healthier and have a higher chance of survival?
It’s definitely an interesting thought though for a project I have right now. This suggestion was actually posed by someone I know who has used plants selected from a certified organic nursery in the UK for use on a semi-extensive roof garden with great success. Just thought I’d see if anyone else out there had given it a shot and what the results where. But anyway, thanks, I think I have actually found my answer 🙂September 25, 2008 at 12:06 am #176563Jason ReiboldParticipant
ahhhh, you were interested the hardiness of the plants from two different types of nurseries! I’m on board now.
I’m curious what answer you got.
I believe that a plant that is grown with the least amount of unnatural intervention would make the most hardy plant. The more environmental stress the plant goes through makes it much more adaptable as it grows. That’s great that nurseries are heading in that direction… I wonder how much extra it’s gonna cost though. So yea, I would definitely go with an organic plant as long as it is from a nursery in the same zone and region as me!September 25, 2008 at 6:10 am #176562
Hardiness, exactly! I’m totally down with the drought tolerants and the natives though. Although sometimes I find the term drought tolerant a little funny in Seattle 😉
But yes, the question of price is the key. Is it really worth it to pay the extra cost? Will the survival rate of the plants dramatically be increased in stressful situations? I guess it depends on exactly how big the cost difference is. I don’t have that answer but hopefully once I find out I can post the cost difference.
Sorry though, my project is in Seattle so I guess that doesn’t help you. But! The more we seek out the organic nurseries and the more we get them in our projects and demand better practices and hardier plants, the more they will increase the supply in many locations!
What kind of environments are you studying?September 25, 2008 at 11:13 am #176561
You are right, hardiness is not the right word. Healthy is more what I was getting at from no artificial fertilizers, etc. I was just trying to find a word other than organic since that seemed to cause some confusion.
Green roofs are such a difficult thing as a green roof is just not a native habitat therefore one must dip into other plant categories like rocky alpine areas, sunny slopes of mountains, etc. Although extensive roofs where 100% native is just not possible in some areas unless you want very little diversity (which in the pacific northwest would equal a sea of yellow…ick!)
LEED is so frustrating at times because clients or consultants want that extra point so they say there can be no irrigation. It seems so short sided to just check off the point and then worry about it later which means hauling out the hose. But at the same time they turn around and say they want lush green vegetation everywhere and proceed to display pictures of browning vegetation (that is non-irrigated) as what they don’t want that. Argh! This can be combatted by stormwater collection and cisterns but what about the summer months? Even if you are blessed with large cisterns fitted into the lower levels of a building or something it’s difficult to hold enough to water to get through the whole summer, all depending of course on how much vegetation you have but August is always a struggle. Ah but I could go on forever about my beef with LEED and how I get annoyed everytime I see a landscape with some makeshift way of watering because they didn’t install proper irrigation…. (on a side note, I’m curious how many projects out there that bypassed the 50% efficiency system and went all out for the non-irrigated and found their plants were dying)
Actually, when I think about it, this really should be a part of LEED. If you look at credits like for Materials, for example, and you think about getting your materials locally, thus saving energy, emissions, etc. and doing your part for the environment….the same goes for the process in which your materials are made and in this case the way the plants are grown and the process endured. With organic plants, people don’t have to be exposed to these chemicals and fertilizers while taking care of the plants, the plants themselves don’t have to be subjected to them and being altered and the environment they are ultimately placed in benefits from the lack of chemicals. And then if you have water passing through the vegetated environment, the water isn’t being filled with those very same chemicals.
Has ASLA said anything about organic vegetation?
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