Augustenborg’s Botanical Roof Garden

I’ve spent eight years as the superintendent of Augustenborgs Botanical Roof Garden, which is the big research and demonstration green roof of the Scandinavian Green Roof Institute, situated in Malmö, Sweden. Augustenborg is known worldwide as one of the most far-reaching projects of regenerating an old housing area to a sustainable neighbourhood. Rain water management was one of the major technical problems of the area before the renovation. This has been amended using a combination of green roofs and a system of canals and ponds relieving the sewage system of 80% of the rain and melt water.

The Botanical roof garden is situated on top of a series of roofs, connected by walkways, on a municipal technical department. The garden is 9500 square metres of vegetated roofs. Most of them are using the light-weight sedum mats, which, although they have only a few centimetres of soil, can hold 50% of the rain water back, and delay the rest. Some parts of the roof is dedicated to research, experimenting with new types of substrate (soil), or new plant communities. One of the buildings have been reinforced, so it can support up to 250 kilos per square metre up there. That roof has been my favourite garden, where I have been constructing new gardens subsequently in the last eight years.
Here is a cavalcade of them.

    The grassy hills
The first roof garden I ever built was this hilly meadow landscape, designed by landscape architect Monika Gora. To keep the weight load below our maximum, the hills are built up using polystyrene blocks, then they were rounded off using hasopore (extruded recycled glass), and on top of a separating felt, a 15 cm soil layer. Because of the steepness of the slopes, a pre-grown meadow mat was used instead of sowing. If I had built that garden with the experience I have today, I would have built in an irrigation hose, instead of having to water it with a sprinkler. If it had been flat, it could probably have made do with just a few waterings in the dryest part of summer, but slopes like that dry out fast.
      Climbers on poles
Monica Gora also designed this garden, with climbers on bamboo poles, and an under vegetation of mixed sedums and herbs. It had fantastic autumn colours, and could be seen by passers by on the ground, who would otherwise not have known there was a garden up there.
    The Herb Garden
One of my favourite gardens on Augustenborg’s Botanical Roof Garden is the herb garden, with its wooden floor, and raised beds of edible and ornamental perennials. This was designed bu landscape architect Pär Söderblom.
      The River
A flowing river sure is a bit of a surprise element on a roof! The landscape architect Nob Takei was inspired by the Swedish river Trappforsen, in designing this river with its slate bottom, fringed by water meadows, rising to dry meadow on the sides. The water was circulated from a rain water pond on the ground. This had the double function of keeping the water aerated and fresh, and letting the vegetation pick up any excess nutrients, to avoid algae growth in the pond.
    The biodiversity roof
This gravel ”garden” has a very harch atmosphere. It wasn’t built to be lush and garden-like – it was built to create a habitat for plants and animals that are gradually being pushed out of their preferred habitats – industrial sites, demolishion sites and other “waste land” in cities. Landscape architect Mårten Setterblad made the design, using metal and “concrete” objects to show this borderline between the human world and nature.
      The Grass Garden
In this project I wanted to explore the use of high ornamental grasses on the roof. Designed by Elsa Persdotter, and choosing suitable plants in co-operation between me, Elsa and Overdam Planteskole in Denmark, a nursery specialised in grasses. I built this garden in 2009.
    Peter Stahres Memorial Garden
Peter Stahre was a member of the committee of the Scandinavian Green Roof Institute from the very start, and until his too early death in 2009. I wanted to make a garden to the memory of this very appreciated and sweet colleague, very much missed by everyone who knew him. He is behind the ecological stormwater management that has been developed in Malmö, so of course a garden in his memory had to have a water feature. I designed and built this garden in 2010-11, with appreciated help from Nigel Wells, who designed and built the flow forms water sculpture.
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© Grönare Stad AB - Louise Lundberg