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UC Davis Arboretum All-Stars “top” the West Sacramento Community Center

Carmen Godinez and Haven Kiers
Recent UC Davis Landscape Architecture and Environmental Design major Carmen Godinez and Special Projects Manager for the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden Haven Kiers plant the green roof at the LEED platinum certified West Sacramento Community Center with Arboretum All-Stars.

Over the past 10 years we have seen Arboretum All-Stars move from favorites in our Arboretum and other campus landscapes to widespread use in gardens statewide, but now their profile is literally being elevated even further…Arboretum All-Stars can now be found on roofs!

Sam Cooney, superintendent of parks and grounds for the City of West Sacramento, was in a predicament. The meadow grass and wildflower mix originally installed on the roof of the LEED platinum-certified West Sacramento Community Center had reached maturity after 5 years and was showing signs of overcrowding. This, combined with the availability of new and innovative irrigation materials specific to green roof design, drove his decision to renovate. But when he was ready to select the plant palette he needed help. That’s where Haven Kiers, special projects manager with the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, stepped in.

“Needless to say my interest was piqued when I heard about this project,” explains Kiers. “Green roofs are a specialty of mine—I teach courses on campus and elsewhere about their importance and installation. I also knew a former student that shared my enthusiasm and that I could recruit for the project as well.”

Carmen Godinez, recent UC Davis Landscape Architecture and Environmental Design graduate, just finished her senior project on green roofs. Not only that, but she received an award for her work that she could contribute to furthering this environmental cause.

“I received a three hundred dollar grant that I was inspired to donate back to the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden to pilot plants for this project,” explains Godinez. “The City of West Sacramento had a mix of meadow grasses planted up here originally, but we wanted try something different.

“I’ve always been interested in restoration, design, and attracting wildlife with plants, so incorporating lots of Arboretum All-Stars into this project made sense.”

So far, so good. According to Cooney, the revamped irrigation system and primarily All-Star plantings have raised his interest in green roofs.

“I can’t thank Haven and the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden enough, not to mention Carmen,” says Cooney. “Their expertise in low-water, full-sun plant selections that will do well in shallow root situations like this has been invaluable. The plant selections have not only established themselves but are putting on a wonderful display for the pre-school classroom next door.”

Because this planting is on a secluded roof, visiting this garden is not possible, but we can let you know the plant palette. Below is a list of the plants that were used. “AA” designates the Arboretum All-Stars.

  • Agave americana var. medio-picta ‘Dwarf Alba’, dwarf white striped dwarf century plant
  • Aloe x spinoisissima, spider aloe
  • Anigozanthos ‘Big Red’, red kangaroo paw
  • Bouteloua gracilis, blue gramma grass  (AA)
  • Echeveria ‘Imbricata’, hen and chicks (AA)
  • Epilobium canum ‘Bowman’s #1’, Bowman’s California fuchsia (AA)
  • Festuca californica, California fescue (AA)
  • Hesperaloe parviflora, coral yucca (AA)
  • Nepeta x faasseni, hybrid catmint (AA)
  • Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Little Spire’, little spire Russian sage
  • Salvia greggii, autumn sage (AA)
  • Saponaria x lempergii ‘Max Frei’, hybrid soapwort (AA)
  • Sedum palmeri, Palmer’s sedum (AA)
  • Solidago californica ‘Cascade Creek’, Cascade Creek California goldenrod (AA)
  • Teucrium chamaedrys ‘Nanum’, dwarf germander (AA)