Glenview Garden Club's gone greener [Urban gardening]

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The Glenview Garden Club has traditionally included gardens exclusively located within the historic Glenview community on the Town and Country Garden Tour. This year, the Glenview Garden Club has promoted the tour from a green angle--for the first time incorporating gardens located close, yet outside the Glenview area. The three gardens featured outside of the normal Town and Country Tour route may be found downtown. Since my personal interest in gardening rests in sustainable living practices (the more urban the better), I started the self-guided tour at these newly integrated gardens.

First stop was the Rooftop Apartment at 21c Museum Hotel, 700 W. Main Street. The gorgeous Rooftop Apartment garden--never before opened to the public--rewarded attendees with an outstanding view of the river and Main Street, along with an artful display of greenery. Garden tour attendees seemed most fascinated with the cast-iron fountain shaped like a table and chair. On top of the table, water spilt from a cast-iron pitcher that a cast-iron rodent had overturned onto the table, making the stereotypical still-art not so still. Woodland Farm Horticulturist, Stephanie Tittle, who maintains the Rooftop garden year-round was present to answer questions.

Next up, The American Life Building a few blocks away at 471 W. Main Street. The Green Roof, as the 17,000 square feet of sedums and three plots of Kentucky-native plants is called, I thought of as the crown-jewel of the gardening tour. The roof is of the innovative design belonging to Tracey Williams. The succulents creep from the roof-edge to the very stepping stones that the attendees toured the garden by. Due to the single, narrow walk-way, those on tour were bound to have an informative encounter with the Bernheim Forest representatives that have been experimenting with three plots for the last two years.

The plots are composed of plants native to the region, propagated by Bernheim Forest. The plots are an experiment to see which native plants can survive harsh exposure from sun and precipitation on the roof. They also encourage butterflies and birds to swoop in. The flat roof is covered in a protective barrier of four inches of humus and shale in which the shallow root systems of the sedums cannot damage the roof, but insulate it. The green cover provides a 30 percent reduction in the American Life Building's heating and air-conditioning costs. The plants also benefit the community by reducing the inner city heat island effect, water run-off, and overflowing sewage--items especially pertinent to the River City.

After basking in the view of sustainable living practices, I moved on to the third garden that emphasized going green on the Glenview Garden Club tour: the Living Wall at The Green Building, 732 E. Market Street. Just as the name suggests, the Living Wall is a vertical garden designed by Tracy Williams to overcome  the obstacle of being yard-less! Consisting of a system of trays and unique irrigation system, the Living Wall supports 459 square feet of perennials, from Daylilies to strawberries to ferns. Also present are self-irrigating planters.

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