Parking  |  Tickets  |  Join

Cart

Feed aggregator

Green roofs grow up: Creating native prairies in city skylines

Garden Blog - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 9:44am

Pop quiz: What kind of natural habitat is increasing in urban areas? This is not a trick question. Rather, the answer offers a slice of good news on a planet that has been increasingly turning from green to gray.

Green roofs are on the rise in cities, according to Kelly Ksiazek-Mikenas, Ph.D., who has a newly minted doctorate degree from the Chicago Botanic Garden and Northwestern University’s graduate program in plant biology and conservation. In Illinois, where more than 99 percent of native prairie has been lost since the 1800s, this is especially good news. 

Kelly Ksiazek-Mikenas in the Plant Science Lab

Kelly Ksiazek-Mikenas, Ph.D., in the Plant Science Lab

Dr. Ksiazek-Mikenas, a former biology teacher, spent six years studying these engineered habitats and their potential to support biodiversity.

The plant scientist is now eager to share her findings: When started carefully and with a long-term plan in mind, these sites do grow up to support species, natural communities, and genetic diversity.

“When you have these three pieces working, you have a good foundation that should sustain plant life over long periods of time and live through environmental changes, and that look and function like a diverse prairie,” she said.

Dr. Ksiazek-Mikenas examined shallow (up to six inches of soil depth), low-moisture roofs from Glencoe, Illinois, to Neubrandenburg, Germany, before reaching that conclusion. While the roofs within the United States are generally younger, some in her German sites were up to 93 years old, providing a mix of data about green roofs at all ages. She also studied data sets and conducted shorter-term experiments to clarify the qualities green roofs need to succeed.

Setting up insect traps in 2013 on a green roof on top of the Berliner Wasserbetriebe building in downtown Berlin

Dr. Ksiazek-Mikenas sets up insect traps in 2013 on a green roof in downtown Berlin.

Her work had its ups and downs. She arrived in Germany looking for similarities, expecting the insect and plant species on one roof to mirror that on the others. Rather, she found differences between roof gardens. After a deep dive into data, she found the secret. Although the plant species differed between gardens, those that grew well shared the traits of being stress-tolerant and adept at establishing themselves in new areas.

She was concerned by the lack of diversity on individual roof gardens both in Germany and in her study sites in Chicago.

Back at the Chicago Botanic Garden, she set up an experiment to test how different soil types would affect which plants were successful, and whether she could create a more diverse community on one rooftop by planting both rock and sand prairies.

She planted her experimental plots on the Josephine P. & John J. Louis Foundation Green Roof Garden North on the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Plant Conservation Science Center and monitored activity over three years. She found success in growing a more diverse habitat. In related work at the same site, she confirmed that native plantings, rather than the common sedum plant mix used on roof tops, offered benefits similar to a native prairie when it comes to storing rainwater, for example.

The Plant Science Center’s Green Roof Garden is an important resource. Planted in 2009, it serves as a living laboratory, classroom, research site, and a source of inspiration to visitors.

The north side of the green roof of the Chicago Botanic Garden Plant Science Center in 2015, including a blooming population Penstemon hirsutus used in one of Dr. Ksiazek-Mikenas' experiments

A blooming population of Penstemon hirsutus was part of  Dr. Ksiazek-Mikenas’ experiments.

She then expanded to include plots on the Ellis Goodman Family Foundation Green Roof Garden South to study genetic diversity. She compared the genetic diversity of populations established from nursery stock to natural populations, finding more diversity in the natural populations grown from wild collected seed.

On the heels of that finding, she studied populations on green roofs in Chicago near Lake Michigan to find out if the plants were able to share their genetic material with plants on neighboring roofs through pollination. She was thrilled to confirm that they did, as the exchange of diverse genetic material is essential for the long-term health of a species.

Although there are limitations to green roof gardens, mainly due to the lack of soil depth and disconnected setting, Dr. Ksiazek-Mikenas is optimistic about their ability to sustain native species. She has presented her work at numerous conferences across the globe to academics and those in the landscaping industry.

Two prairie species in Dr. Ksiazek-Mikenas' experimental plots blooming on a green roof on the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago

Two prairie species in Dr. Ksiazek-Mikenas’ experimental plots—Ratibida pinnata (foreground, right) and Lespedeza capitata (background, left)—bloom on a green roof on the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago.

“In the future, I hope that green roofs can continue to provide ecosystem services to people but also increasingly support a wide variety of urban biodiversity,” she said.

The motivated researcher is ready to move ahead with her career and intends to continue to bring her unique perspective to future students and to the development of more green infrastructure in this growing world.

©2018 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

Winter gardens : reinventing a season / Cédric Pollet.

New Book Arrivals - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 3:00pm
Winter gardens : reinventing a season / Cédric Pollet.
Author: Pollet, Cédric, author, photographer.
Call Number: SB439.5.P65 2017

Peony : the best varieties for your garden / David C. Michener & Carol A. Adelman.

New Book Arrivals - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 3:00pm
Peony : the best varieties for your garden / David C. Michener & Carol A. Adelman.
Author: Michener, David, author.
Call Number: SB413.P4M53 2017

Botany : an introduction to plant biology / James D. Mauseth.

New Book Arrivals - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 3:00pm
Botany : an introduction to plant biology / James D. Mauseth.
Author: Mauseth, James D.
Call Number: QK47.M1635 2014

Winter Bird Feeder Watch

Birding Events at the Forest Preserves - Sun, 01/14/2018 - 10:00am

What birds are visiting our feeders this winter? We’ll spend a restful morning helping you identify our resident birds and winter migrants while sharing ways to attract them to your own yard.

All programs are weather dependent but if there is snow, Sagawau Nordic is open and this program will be put on hold for another time. Call 630-257-2045 or check our Facebook page to check program status.

The post Winter Bird Feeder Watch appeared first on Forest Preserves of Cook County.

Bird Nest Hike

Birding Events at the Forest Preserves - Sat, 01/13/2018 - 1:00pm

Now that leaves are off the trees, we can see where birds were nesting earlier this year. Family program. Registration required.

The post Bird Nest Hike appeared first on Forest Preserves of Cook County.

Atlas en couleurs des orchidées cultivées : avec environ 1.000 figures en couleurs ; accompagné d'un texte ... / par Julien Costantin.

New Book Arrivals - Wed, 01/10/2018 - 10:00am
Atlas en couleurs des orchidées cultivées : avec environ 1.000 figures en couleurs ; accompagné d'un texte ... / par Julien Costantin.
Author: Costantin, J. (Julien), 1857-1936.
Call Number: SB409.C67 1913

Rhodora.

New Book Arrivals - Wed, 01/10/2018 - 10:00am
Rhodora.

Botanical art from India : the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh collection / H.J. Noltie.

New Book Arrivals - Wed, 01/10/2018 - 10:00am
Botanical art from India : the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh collection / H.J. Noltie.
Author: Noltie, Henry J., author.
Call Number: QK98.16.I64N65 2017

Plants : healers and killers / Michael Radcliffe Lee.

New Book Arrivals - Wed, 01/10/2018 - 10:00am
Plants : healers and killers / Michael Radcliffe Lee.
Author: Lee, Michael Radcliffe , author.
Call Number: RS164.L44 2015

Maisie and the botanic garden mystery / author and illustrator Aileen Paterson.

New Book Arrivals - Wed, 01/10/2018 - 10:00am
Maisie and the botanic garden mystery / author and illustrator Aileen Paterson.
Author: Paterson, Aileen, author, illustrator.
Call Number: PZ7.P38Ma 2006

The Japanese garden / Sophie Walker.

New Book Arrivals - Wed, 01/10/2018 - 10:00am
The Japanese garden / Sophie Walker.
Author: Walker, Sophie, author.
Call Number: SB458.W35 2017

Revista de la Sociedad Boliviana de Botánica.

New Book Arrivals - Wed, 01/10/2018 - 10:00am
Revista de la Sociedad Boliviana de Botánica.

Flora de la región del Parque Nacional Amboró, Bolivia. 1, Licofitas y Helechos, autor Michael Sundue ; Gimnospermas, autor Michael H. Nee / Michael Nee.

New Book Arrivals - Wed, 01/10/2018 - 10:00am
Flora de la región del Parque Nacional Amboró, Bolivia. 1, Licofitas y Helechos, autor Michael Sundue ; Gimnospermas, autor Michael H. Nee / Michael Nee.
Author: Nee, Michael, author.
Call Number: QK73.B52N44 2011

Icones 21-[22] / Hooker.

New Book Arrivals - Wed, 01/10/2018 - 10:00am
Icones 21-[22] / Hooker.
Call Number: QK98.H66 1972

Microflora.

New Book Arrivals - Wed, 01/10/2018 - 10:00am
Microflora.

The biological richness of Turkey and its protection / A. Nihat Gökyiægit.

New Book Arrivals - Wed, 01/10/2018 - 10:00am
The biological richness of Turkey and its protection / A. Nihat Gökyiægit.
Author: Gökyiægit, Ali Nihat, author.
Call Number: QH77.T87

Central Siberian Botanical Garden = Central§nyj sibirskij botaniéceskij sad

New Book Arrivals - Wed, 01/10/2018 - 10:00am
Central Siberian Botanical Garden = Central§nyj sibirskij botaniéceskij sad
Call Number: SB466.S653C46 1996

Cattleya intermedia / Jiråo Miura [and others].

New Book Arrivals - Wed, 01/10/2018 - 10:00am
Cattleya intermedia / Jiråo Miura [and others].
Author: Miura, Jiråo, 1933-
Call Number: SB409.8.C38M48 1983

Phlox for the Mid-Atlantic region / George Coombs.

New Book Arrivals - Wed, 01/10/2018 - 10:00am
Phlox for the Mid-Atlantic region / George Coombs.
Author: Coombs, George, (horticulturist) author.
Call Number: QK495.P77C66 2017

Pages

Subscribe to Chicago Botanic Garden aggregator