Ed Snodgrass is the internationally known green-roof author, consultant and grower whose own Maryland nursery experienced downpours gushing downhill, unstopped by mere turfgrass. Of course he was using vegetated roofs, but that wasn’t enough.
As Ed wrote me, “Even though the farm is mostly pervious, in high intensity events water used to stream down my driveway. Now that is mostly managed completely, except for the largest storms and then it is moderated.” He doesn’t even mention how stunning the solution looks, but then he’s a modest guy.
To solve the lingering problem he replaced those patches of lawn with three gorgeous gardens that in sequence create what’s called a treatment train. He explains that “Any one of the systems might get overwhelmed but working together, they each help the other. The green roof slows the water down, allowing the water to be eased into the system at a slower peak rate.”
And “The two small ponds are for detention and infiltration.” Well, the ponds may be small ponds but they’re surrounded by hundreds of water-retaining plants.
Stage 3, shown above and below, was designed by Australian designer Mel Ogden, whom Ed met while working on a project together in China.
Mel chose the disease-resistant Rudbeckia deamii as the showstopper for the garden. Massing is her style and wow, I’m all for it.
The caboose in Ed’s treatment train, also designed by Mel Ogden and installed just a year ago, is shown above and below. He explains that it as “uses the meanders for sediment deposit and slowing the velocity of the water.”
Here’s Ed’s approach from his decades in the trenches of stormwater management: “All of that is pretty standard stormwater stuff. We are just trying to show they can be gardens and not just ditches and sediment ponds.” (Hear, hear!)
Ed sent me these photos of the design and implementation phases, with overhead views from a second-story window being especially instructive.
I recently visited Ed, curious to see all this and frankly seeking some hippie companionship. I thank him for that (he has stories!) and for his photos, especially this last one with rain flowing through it, taken this week. Just a year old, the treatment train caboose is performing as intended and is beautiful already.