Thursday, November 27, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Green roof plants make a darned nice rug

These are the sedum mats for the Water Department's "islands" exhibit. They're an example of both creative design and reinvention. The reinvention part involves Ed Snodgrass, a fifth generation farmer in northern Maryland who realized in the late 1990s that he was not going to be able to make it as a dairy farmer.

Green roof plants make a darned nice rug

These are the sedum mats for the Water Department's "islands" exhibit. They're an example of both creative design and reinvention. The reinvention part involves Ed Snodgrass, a fifth generation farmer in northern Maryland who realized in the late 1990s that he was not going to be able to make it as a dairy farmer.

The thought of a family farm of 150 years' duration going under on his watch was too much. So Ed did some soul-searching and research, and decided to stake his claim to the green roof market, which wasn't nearly the big deal in this country that it is now. It was a pretty brave choice, but Ed's Emory Knoll Farms is well-established in the field now.

On my trip to visit him several years ago, I was struck by the development that surrounds his property, fellow farmers who did go under or couldn't resist the offers from developers. I was struck by two other things - the tremendous versaitility of the sedums and other succulents he was growing; they're really beautiful, in addition to be workhorses for good drainage and low maintenance.

The other thing that's interesting is this:  You can do a "green roof" almost anywhere. It doesn't have to be a roof per se. The Water Department exhibit uses Ed's mats to show that monoculture lawns can be replaced with useful, attractive and environmentally smart alternatives.

Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
About this blog
Ginny Smith, a Philadelphia native, joined the Inquirer at 1985. After stints as both reporter and editor in the city and suburbs, she’s been happily writing – and learning - about gardening full time since 2006. She’s won two silver medals of achievement from the national Garden Writers Association and in 2011, Bartram’s Garden honored her with its Green Exemplar award for her stories about “the region’s deeply rooted horticultural history, cultural attractions and bountiful gardens.” She plays in her own – mostly - bountiful garden in East Falls. Reach Virginia A. at vsmith@phillynews.com .

Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
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