By John Harrod, Backyard Habitat Coordinator
Yesterday Delaware Nature Society staff went to the Wilmington Riverfront for our annual Christmas field trip to see two construction projects – one completed and one in progress.
Our first destination was at the Barclays building to see a green building technique – a newly installed green roof. On this cold, gray winter-like day, the landscape on the roof looked pretty desolate. It was reminiscent of the arctic tundra containing only inches-high sedum plants growing on a bed of gravel. Thought the plants are still filling in, I imagine what it would look in the summer with a lush carpet covering the roof with greens, yellows, and oranges. Even now in its duller winter shades it is still more beautiful than a traditional roof.
So why grow a bunch of plants on the roof of an office building…for lunch time respite maybe? While that is an added benefit, it was actually built to help alleviate storm water problems caused by rain water running across impervious surfaces like roofs and pavement instead of infiltrating (soaking) into the ground. When it rains, this roof collects and holds the water that would otherwise run off the roof and pick up pollutants, carrying them to the nearest stream or river…in this case, the Christina River.
After viewing the green roof we walked along the riverfront, viewing beds of native plants along the way including one of my favorites, the scarlet rose mallow (Hibiscus coccineus). Our destination was beyond the Shipyard Shops where the sidewalk ends. Located there is the Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge and within it the soon to be completed DuPont Environment Education Center. DNS will operate the center once it is completed in 2009. The center will offer fantastic views of the marsh, river and city, as well as exhibits and activities year-round on a variety of urban environmental issues. Look for future announcements about the completion of this new center in 2009.