By Becky Wolfe, Science Programmer
Bright yellow and purple flowers. Lush green vegetation. Sounds like you are on the roof! Wait. The roof? At The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, we have the Schaefer Rooftop garden, visible from the Sunburst Window. This beautiful garden is one of the ways the museum is trying to be greener and more sustainable. By adding this garden, we are helping with water conservation efforts.
When water falls on this garden or enters the garden from gutters on the roof, it is absorbed by the soil, which is a mixture of clay and plant food. We have to use a special mixture so the garden doesn’t become too heavy for the roof. Plants in the garden use the water and will even release this back into air. Water that is not used by the plants, particularly if we have a huge rainstorm is filtered by the plants and soil.
So why would the museum want to capture this water? Why don’t we just it run into the sewers? In Indianapolis, all of the rain water that enters our sewer system is sent to the treatment plant. When we have a lot of rain, this puts a lot of stress and strain on the treatment facilities. By sending some of the rain water to our garden, we are helping to filter water and also lowering the burden on our treatment facilities. We also provide a beautiful garden for visitors to enjoy!
In front of the Welcome Center, the museum has also installed a rain garden. The rain garden provides the same benefit to our environment. While rooftop gardens can be difficult to install at home, a rain garden can be planted in your yard. Look for areas where water naturally collects in your yard or choose a place near your downspouts for your garden. Send the water from your gutters into your garden to filter and conserve water. Native plants work well in rain gardens and there are many local resources to help install rain gardens. A quick internet search will connect you with experts!
Next time you are at the museum, stop by the Sunburst window, located on Level 2 to see the museum’s beautiful rooftop garden!