Gardens in the Sky: Green roof Gardens

By Michelle Domocol

Back to Inflourish: Cebu Blog

When Healing Present’s founder and staff asked me to design a green roof project in the Philippines, I was beyond excited. I knew a green roof would long-lasting value to the site’s environment as well as the owners themselves. Designed thoughtfully, a green roof gives people a layer of beautiful plants on their roof. Yes, a green roof can morph a plain roof into marvelous riots of floral color and soft, organic forms.

But beyond a look and feel, green roofs absorb heavy rainfall, reduce flooding, and naturally cool a building.

Plus a green roof is extra real estate! It’s more growing space for herbs, flowers, and vegetables. For Healing Present, it’s also another playground for children. All these benefits attracted Healing Present and other clients to the prospect of a green roof. Since Healing Present is in the middle of tropical, upland area of the Philippines, the plant selection was delectable and vast.

It included (A) coleus (B) cuban oregano, (C) purple & italian basil, (D) amaranth, and (E) purslane. This wide selection yields excellent harvests and dynamic plant combinations. If you had the time, you could install diverse plant combos 2 or 3 times a year just for fun.

Plant Mixes for Gardens in the Sky

  • Berries + Bulbs: In tropical areas, heavy duty roofs can handle dwarfed versions of acerola and calamansi (calamondin) trees contrasting tropical bulbs from the lily and onion family.
  • Native Meadow: Choose a mix of meadow flowers and grasses native to your region. In the past, I’ve chosen species that can easily grow in soil 4 to 6 inches deep.
  • Close, Happy Edibles: Choose edible dwarf varieties or veggies that can handle crowding and moderate soil depths like such as spinach, lettuce, and radishes. Or try herb mixes with lavenders, oregano, chives and sages.
  • Mediterranean Meadow: In regions outside the tropics, you can still mix dwarf fruit trees, native perennial succulents, flowers and berries. I had a successful design growing in a Mediterranean climate. The middle of the roof was sedum varieties with columbines, yarrows and chamomiles. Then the outer edge of the roof was planted with berry bushes like gooseberry and chokeberry. See the diagram below.
Mediterranean Meadow: For our readers in mediterranean regions, here’s a sample green roof concept. This is inspired by my work in the Bay Area (California)

For readers and Healing Present advocates in the US or in more temperate regions, you may want to consider the following planting combinations listed above. Of course, when you consult or hire a designer the planting combination should match your specific roof angle, roof soil depth and weight capacity.

If you’re interested in gardening outside of Cebu, you may want to check out my posts at the my posts at Inflourish: Around the World. There, I post gardening ideas inspired by my work in California, East Coast of US, Belize, Australia and other regions.