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Volunteers, NCDOT Revitalize Rooftop Garden in Randolph County

Rooftop garden

Volunteers and NCDOT employees, shown here in October, finish replanting the rooftop garden in Randolph County.

You can watch this short video about the volunteers replanting the rooftop garden this fall.

ASHEBORO – Beginning next spring, colorful blossoms from new plantings will decorate the state’s only rest area with a rooftop garden in Randolph County.

A unique partnership between the N.C. Department of Transportation and a group of master gardeners from the Randolph County Cooperative Extension Service made it possible this fall to revitalize the garden. It is on top of the visitor center at the rest area that opened in 2010 on I-73/74 South near Seagrove.

Last month, about a dozen volunteers from the gardening group fanned out across the garden to transplant the young plugs that had been selected from greenhouses in North Carolina, Maryland and California. The volunteers poked wooden pegs into the soft soil, which also recently had been replenished. They knelt on knee pads and used hand spades and gloved hands to pat the soil around the baby plants. They were careful to step on flat granite flagstones arranged in the garden, and along the pea gravel borders.

In all, they planted sedum, ice plants, chive plants and hens and chicks, yucca and salvia – varieties chosen for their resistance to drought conditions and extreme heat and cold weather typical of the state’s Piedmont Triad.

The original batch of plants that were put in almost a decade ago didn’t fare so well. Some of the varieties didn’t thrive in a rooftop environment, and a root disease spread and killed off other plants. The garden group sent a sample of the soil to the N.C. State plant pathologist for analysis. A root disease was detected, so NCDOT treated the soil before planting the new, hardier plugs.
“We wanted to participate after NCDOT reached out to us, because we knew it would be a fun, collaborative project,” said Charles Hardin, the project coordinator for the group and a resident of nearby Asheboro.

The department, which is responsible for maintaining the garden and the rest area, spent $2,131 buying new plants and $315 in new topsoil. The group volunteered several days from August through October doing the rest.  The rest area was awarded a LEED silver certification for a design that has environmentally sustainable features, such as the rooftop garden.

“It helps us take care of a feature area of our rest area, and it’s an educational tool for their members,” said Mark Thompson, the roadside environmental engineer for NCDOT’s Division 8 responsible for vegetation in this part of the state.

And moving forward, the garden group will continue to help maintain the garden, periodically checking on it to pull weeds and replace aging plants.

The young plants will be in bloom from late spring through the fall each year.

“When they grow and fill in, we think it’s going to be looking really good,” Hardin said.


12/18/2018 2:25 PM