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Color it green in gardens, buildings

Barely two weeks ago, a group of Master Gardeners from the Tri-Cities traveled to Charleston, W.V., for an exciting, informative meeting to learn new trends and methods of growing.
Nearly 1,000 Master Gardeners attended. The keynote address was given by Anna Ball, of the Ball Corporation in Chicago.
“Exciting” does not begin to describe the ideas and wisdom that caused me to write seven pages of notes to be certain her content was remembered.
An effective visual presentation remained behind her with ever-changing buildings and ideas now in full use in Chicago.
“Color it Green” is the goal of Chicago. The main idea of the goal is that buildings and gardens be green and growing.
For example, roof gardens are a wonderful addition to tall buildings. New York City also has such gardens with growing green roofs.
We can do a green roof right here in the Tri-Cities, too, even if we don’t have skyscrapers dotting our skyline like Chicago and NYC.
Why not give bird feeders, sheds, out buildings and other structures plants such as small vines, trailing flowers and moss on their roofs?
To do so, you need to create an edge on the roof of whatever structure you are “coloring green.”
Use two pallets turned vertical joined back to back with shelves having soil-holding edges.
The pallets make use of garden fabric to contain soil and, standing vertical with support, are then planted with lettuce or greens.
Small gardens can double their growing space using vertical structures. Try a cucumber or squash plant growing up a pallet ladder in your garden.
An idea brought home was to convert the mini-dome at East Tennessee State University into a green roof demonstration.
My idea deals with appearance, not structure or maintenance. It is simply an idea that would be fun to see and help with.
Fit the roof with soil-holding edges, keeping soil at various heights, planted with sun loving, cold tolerating plants, watered by helicopter. Wouldn’t that knock our socks off?
Realistically, we could, with proper support, grow vines over the entrances, creating a green umbrella 8 feet wide the entire curve of the dome.
Green roofs save energy and increase property values while showing onlookers a beauty spot.
The more we learn and bring home to try, the better we all become. This is true with gardens that demonstrate various methods of growing and raising some of our food all year.
We are healthier, happier and more concerned with our environment than by sitting indoors.
Happy Gardening Everyone!
Jeanne Cope is a Garden Writer and UT Lifetime Master Gardener. Check her out at or e-mail her at [email protected]