On Top with an All-Native Plant Green Roof

Ten species of native plants now make up the first green roof of only native plants in Michigan.  The project tops (literally) a new storage shed used by Master Gardener volunteers from the Master Gardener Association of Northwest Michigan and the Boardman River Nature Center on the Grand Traverse Soil Conservation District’s property in Traverse City.
Plants used on the roof include:

  • Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)
  • Aquilegia canadensis (wild columbine)
  • Rudbeckia fulgida and Rudbeckia hirta (black eyed Susan)
  • Artemisia ludoviciana (Prairie Sage)
  • Penstemon hirsutus (Hairy beardtongue)
  • Coreopsis lanceolata (Sand Coreopsis)
  • Aster novae-anglia (New England Aster)
  • Geum triflorum (Prairie smoke)
  • Lupinus perennis (Wild lupine)
  • Sisyrinchium angustifolium (Blue Eyed Grass)

The roof was completed during a special education event at the Boardman River location on Cass Road, Traverse City on Sunday, October 18.   It’s a project that was almost a year in the making, beginning when Nathan Griswold of Inhabitect presented a program on green roofs to the association’s October 2014 meeting.   His presentation struck home with Communications Chairperson Whitney Miller.  “It hit me that that was exactly what we needed.”   Miller explains that there was a need for an additional tool shed at the conservation district.  She envisioned a new building that would also host a green roof and provide teachable opportunities as the project developed.
It’s a project that took her on an odyssey that included getting permission for her inspiration from the conservation district and then to public authorities for all the necessary permits and permissions.   She accomplished that in February. Nathan connected Whitney with an architect out of Royal Oak who became equally excited about the project. The Conservation District reached out to the Northwestern Michigan College Construction Technology program and asked for student help in building the shed. They happily agreed. Fundraising efforts occurred all summer, and are still on going.
All of these pieces, plus MSU Extension, created a strong team of partners who were integral in this project. Concrete for the slab was donated by The Concrete Service Inc. of Traverse City and Master Gardeners and volunteers helped dig out the area for the slab and pour the concrete before the NMC team began building the shed.
During the October 18 event, attending Master Gardeners were taught about – and participated in – the project of building a roof, creating layers of protection, adding six inches of specialty growing medium and then installing the plants. Now Miller is continuing to fundraise to complete the project.  “Nathan was great about helping us finish the project despite a shortfall in fundraising.  We wanted it done before winter.  Now my focus is to continue to raise money to pay those final bills.”
To see more photos visit the MGANM website.

To donate to the project, you can either send a donation to the address listed on MGANM’s website, or email Whitney at info@mganm.org. 


*Have an idea for our Spotlight section? Click here to let us know!