Sunday, January 3, 2010


We recently visited San Francisco and toured the California Academy of Science. Located within Golden Gate Park, this new facility contains hundreds of exhibits of the natural world and is an exemplar of sustainable design. Gardeners will be especially impressed by the 197,000 square foot living roof! This verdant creation, designed by Renzo Piano, uses seven hillocks to suggest the city's rolling topography. The stability of these mounded slopes are ensured by biodegradable trays which allow plant roots to grow and intertwine (the Biotray by Rana Creek Nursery is now commercially available.) Horticulturalists also sought sturdy species of native plants. The most prominent perennials are Strawberry, Self Heal, Sea Pink and Stonecrop. Annuals such as Tidy Tips, Goldfield, Miniature Lupine and California Poppy are also used. As in any garden, the space will continue to change and grow. The Academy is planning to expand the roof's habitat in order to protect the endangered Bruno elfin butterfly and the Bay checkerspot butterfly. Read more about this remarkable living museum at

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