Wednesday, September 24, 2014

An Oasis for Monarchs in the Middle of a Corn Field

On a recent trip to Nebraska to service a new installation, I anticipated how the roof would mature in its first summer. I specified the proper soil depth to meet the native plant and succulent requirements, we added the very special mycorrhizae, the irrigation worked fairly well, and we were fortunate to have an abundance of rainfall this season. 
The building sits beyond turf grass neighborhoods, surrounded by corn fields. Driving to the building at the bottom of a hill, one cannot see it clearly as it was designed to blend into the landscape.

Once I got to the roof, my first observations included great coverage already at 60% and a nice balance of the fall grass plumes and flowering perennials. The best surprise coming from these roofs, however, was the new ecosystem we created for the butterflies and bees! These creatures found their oasis atop new construction, and quickly! I'm not talking about seeing one pollinator, we saw hundreds fluttering about! (Do you know how hard it is to photograph or video a bunch of monarchs?! Surprisingly difficult!) Did we witness a snippet of the severely declining Monarch population migrating south? Were they already living close to the site? I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing the Xerces Society will be happy to hear we have a new habitat, in a very desired place in the Mid-west!

Often times, I get caught in my daily routine working in the green roof industry, and forget that the decisions we make will impact others. Sure, there are lists of plants that attract certain insects, and I even blogged about this topic back in April, but many species are not suitable for a green roof micro-climate.  In this case, I'm proud of the consulting I provided this client, and was able to build a unique palette beyond the typical systems out there, making a huge impact on the local environment. And, it appears that nature is the real winner this time!
Contact Angie Durhman with any questions you may have about this project or blog.

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