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The Western Air-Scape

Articles: The Western Air-Scape

Native Allium acuminatum growing along the Columbia River Gorge. Photo: Sean Hogan

Here in the West, we’re arriving at the green roof planting party fashionably late by thousands of years—or at least a few decades. Sod roofs and insulating with vegetation have a long history in northwestern Europe and eastern North America where winters are cold and summers wet. Here, with regular periods of drought and a winter growing season, our challenge is finding plants that satisfy our aesthetic desires yet thrive with minimal use of our most precious resource, water.

[pullquote]“We garden in a unique series of climates in the West. When extending the act of cultivation to green roofs, the differences quickly become apparent.”[/pullquote]

In Portland, many green roof projects were initially set forth to slow rainwater runoff during winter storms, attenuating its release from vast, impermeable urban surfaces and reducing the likelihood of overwhelming antiquated treatment systems with stormwater and sediment. Some years ago, local designers  coined the term eco-roof to lessen expectations that any rooftop plantin...


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