Exploring the Natural World, Through an Unnatural Garden

March 4, 2011

Living on-the-go has a tendency to distract ‘diligent doers’ from taking breaks for leisurely on-the-town activities. Making time, however, may not be the only obstacle in ones bill busting work schedule.  Money can be a discouraging factor to soaking in an Italian aria at the Opera house or catching a prime time flick in 3D brilliance.  The discovery of funcheap.com, a San Francisco based gem, was a welcome solution to both of these concerns!

With weekly listings, this website not only helps you plan ahead for the fun, but it narrows down your options to include only those requisite cheap (and free!) ones. There are plenty of accessible, flashy opportunities since here ‘cheap’ does not mean shabby or bland thrills.  My timing in the bay coincided with Free Wednesdays at the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park.  What a treat to stumble upon an array of fascinating exhibits at the museum that aim to “explore, explain, and protect the natural world.”  I found the Living Roof to be utterly stunning and particularly relevant to a mission of sustainable cohabitation.  There are 2.5 acres of California plants and wildlife that comprise this unconventional garden space atop a dome shaped roof!  Special attention went into a landscape of variety, with 70 species of beautiful plants and wildflowers.  As a live research project, tests were conducted to determine which blossoming beauties would survive the best on the Living Roof with minimal water and care; 9 finalists were found.

Believe it or not, a living roof garden is not a new idea.  The concept began in Mesopotamia and then spread to Greece, Rome and Persia.  Many, many variations and motivations later, the modern living roof was developed in 1960s Germany with advanced waterproofing technology.  Now referred to as “green roofs”, these gardens provide superior insulation, prevent storm water runoff, (reduce the urban heat island effect in SF) and create a new habitat for bees, birds and butterflies.

Having a sustainable garden can be a down to earth reality for many.  I recently landscaped my back yard in favor of foliage that required minimal amounts of water (in sunny Los Angeles weather), yet expressed an elegant range of plants.  Choosing rocks instead of grass, and succulents instead of shrubs are initial steps, but as you can see with the museum’s Living Roof, there are plenty of options to work with nature’s diversity!  I hope green roofs are a trend in the making for homes of all shapes around the world.


  • http://sf.funcheap.com

  • http://www.calacademy.org

  • http://www.gardenguides.com/131046-history-roof-garden.html

  • http://www.lowwatergardening.com

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