Little Known Fact: There’s a Garden on Our Roof!

Published July 25, 2014

Did you know? The Aquarium has a living roof over our Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes exhibit. Our Greenroof is covered in vegetation, blooming into a lush meadow each spring, and is nearly self-sustaining.

The National Aquarium's Greenroof

But it’s not just there to look pretty. Greenroofs have a host of other benefits. In addition to providing a much-needed natural space for plants and animals in the center of the city, our Greenroof saves energy by reducing the heating and cooling demands on our building.

The plants retain up to 75 percent of rainwater, decreasing stormwater runoff. And the cherry on top? Because the gardens act as a natural barrier against everyday wear and tear, green roofs tend to last longer than conventional rooftops.

What began as a thin layer of soil dotted with stonecrops and ornamental onions has grown into a lush landscape of grasses and wildflowers through a process we like to call “meadowfication.” In the fall of 2012, an array of perennial wildflower seeds like Black-Eyed Susan, Butterfly Weed and Bee Balm were spread across the roof, and the following spring hardy grasses were added.

Purple Bee Balm

Most of these plants have drought-tolerant adaptations which allow them to flourish simply on the water they get from rainfall. The Greenroof requires little more maintenance than the occasional pruning and weeding to keep the walkways clear.

A few “volunteer” plants have even made their way to our roof all on their own. Dandelions, lesser yellow trefoil, mock strawberry, daisy fleabane and more have been spotted flowering between the grasses and plants we’ve grown ourselves.

And the Greenroof doesn’t just attract local flowers—it attracts native wildlife too! Honey bees, house sparrows, wolf spiders, finches, swallowtail butterflies, ladybugs and more have made their homes in this oasis or use it as a rest stop if they’re just passing through. In fact, two sets of Mallards have recently made it their nesting grounds.

A natural refuge like the one our Greenroof provides can be difficult to come by within the city limits and has become a valuable resource for native plants and animals alike.

Check out some of the other ways the Aquarium stays sustainable, and stay tuned for future updates as our Greenroof continues to grow!

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