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Up on the Roof

May 01, 2012

I’m taking a break from a garden party. As I write this, 30 or so Master Naturalists (MMN) and Conservation Department (MDC) staff are busy setting out native plants that will provide a beautiful, cooling, carbon-sequestering, habitat-creating blanket for the new “green” roof over part of MDC’s central office in Jefferson City.

The K Building was on the cutting edge of green architecture when it was built in 1978. Besides its earth-contact design, it had a roof covered in grass. Innovative as that was three decades ago, the K Building’s sod roof was as dull as its name. So when the roof reached the end of its useful life and had to be replaced, we decided to make turn it into something more than another patch of lawn to mow.

With help from Missouri Wildflowers Nursery, Shaw Nature Reserve, Forest Keeling Nursery and our own George O. White State Forest Nursery, we drew up a landscape plan that makes the new roof a true garden spot. My fellow volunteers are planting prairie dropseed, wild strawberry, little bluestem, sideoats gramma grass, purple daisies, coreopsis, three kinds of coneflower, goldenrod, golden Alexander, blue wild indigo, bottlebrush blazing star, shining blue star, butterfly milkweed, rose verbena, pussytoes, wild hydrangea and American beauty berry. In a year or two, these prolific natives will seed bare spots, creating a blanket of greenery spangled with gorgeous wildflowers.

One interesting aspect of this project is the “engineered soil” used to create the green roof. I am told this is a mix of compost, gravel and sand that has ideal drainage properties and fertility, plus absolutely no weed seed. The soil has been in place since last fall, and there is not a single weed to be seen!

The coolest thing is getting to hang out with 18 dedicated master naturalists. MDC started its MMN program in 2007, and already has trained 1,200 people in 12 chapters. Working with us today are representatives from the Meramec Hills, Lake Ozark, Boonslick, Ozark, Hi Lonesome and Miramigoua chapters. Two folks drove all the way from Mammoth Spring, Ark., this morning to take part in the planting. They say they are going to be installing a small green roof at the federal fish hatchery there and wanted to see how we did ours.

I look forward to seeing our roof blossom and grow.


Getting Started
Thirty Master Naturalists and MDC volunteers receive planting instructions.


Volunteers get instruction
Planting Instructions
Volunteers received instruction on how to work atop the green roof.


Planting gets underway
Dig in!
Planting gets underway.


On to the Next Bed
On to the Next Bed
Volunteers begin planting another bed.


Finish Line In Sight
Finish Line In Sight
Master Naturalists and MDC volunteers can see the final beds.


How much longer?
How Mulch Longer?
With planting nearly done, the mulching begins.


Your disappointment is understandable, Alice, and I apologize for the oversight. My memory is not what it used to be. In fact, I'm not sure it ever was! Please note that I have corrected my error, adding the Meramec Hills Chapter to the text above. - Jim Low

As your article states, it was an exciting opportunity to be a part of the green roof project. The Meramec Hills chapter, started in 2005, was one of the first chapters in the MMN program. I was the only member of that chapter present yesterday, but still sorry to see it not mentioned.

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