Real Gardens

Up on the green roof

by Susan
Green roofs are sprouting up everywhere and the ones I’ve seen are all beautiful – from a distance.  As in "There’s our lovely and functional green roof." But then I discovered this one at the co-housinEasternvillage4002g community Eastern Village in Silver Spring, Maryland.  (If you’ve not familiar with co-housing, it combines homeownership with community living, using a co-op legal structure.  There are individual units and shared spaces like party rooms, exercise rooms, and so on.) 

What was once an abandoned office building is now the LEED Silver-rated home to over 100 people, one of the few residential buildings in the U.S. to have attained that badge of environmental goodness. (Here‘s lots more about Eastern Village’s awards and media coverage.)

Easternvil4001_2
But we’re gardeners here so let’s look at their outdoor spaces.  Except for one bench, the courtyard is filled with trees and shrubs, so is not a garden for people to gather in or for playing on the grass, but that’s okay because everyone’s favorite space is up on the roof.  There I found not just the beautiful, ubiquitous sedums, but also children’s play equipment, a hottub, a large gazebo for live music events, seating and picnic tables, and plenty of spots for residenEasternvillagecourt400ts to just spread out on a beach blanket.

All very cool.  But I’m more of a feet-on-the-ground type and my reaction to the whole thing was: Wouldn’t people rather be hanging out in the courtyard?  But to my friends who live with exactly that situation (and shown here in a previous post about their co-housing community – click to enlarge the tiny photos) the courtyard’s not really private. 

Back on my quiet, leafy street, the only change I take a bit of credit for is building the first deck, a structure that’s now de rigeur.  Hell, my own house didn’t even have a window on the back side of the house overlooking our lovely wooded valley.  With homes today being all about great rooms with expansive views of the back yard, it’s hard to imagine, much less understand, the anti-outdoors domestic style preferred by my parents’ generation.

THE POWER OF THE WINDOW BOXEasternvillage_2

The residents of Eastern Village DO love their window boxes, and the whole effect is wonderful, as
shown in their slide show.  Great way to inject color and fun above the cool greens of that courtyard.

Bottom photo from the EVC website.

Posted by on May 31, 2008 at 3:38 am, in the category Real Gardens.
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4 responses to “Up on the green roof”

  1. Kim says:

    Susan, thanks for letting us know about this lovely place – I had no idea we had places like this in the DC area!

  2. Dave says:

    It sounds so inviting that I want to live there.

  3. Kim and others – DC is teaming with hidden gems like this and amny, many backyard gardens hidden from the public – your only chance to see these is on the local garden tours (fee usually benefit a charity) or to read about them on blogs and local publications.

  4. susan harris says:

    Quick clarification about that hottub on the roof – it’s NOT. The residents thought better of that particular energy-guzzling idea and chose instead to use the room for growing food. Excellent.

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