Andreas Fuhrmann/Record Searchlight Phillip Baldwin of the Shasta College and University of California Master Gardeners works Thursday on the rooftop landscaping at the Redding Library.
Philip Baldwin paced himself as he crouched at one end of Redding Library’s roof garden and pulled the masses of crunchy weeds that have choked out the native plants.
“The way that it was laid out, it just became a big mess,” said Baldwin of the distribution pattern on the 40-by-160-foot garden overtaken by grass and dandelions. He shook the roots of each plant he pulled to remove the excess lightweight soil and filled black trash bags. After hours of work this week, he had cleared a thin strip.
Baldwin and two of his peers with Shasta College and University of California Master Gardeners are getting ready to present city leaders a design to remove the grassy mess and freshen up the green roof. Once the plan clears, the volunteer gardeners will begin work in earnest sometime in April. The garden won’t feature only new plants. It also will add the artwork of north state artists.
Baldwin wants the work to wrap up in May, but that will depend on how fast his group can recruit helpers for clean-up days and raise $5,000 to pay for supplies and plants needed for the project.
“We really want this to stand and survive, and we think we have the companion plants that will work well in this environment,” Baldwin said.
The design scales back the planting. Gardeners have selected 15 different plants, ranging from dwarf mugo pine to lamb’s ear to creeping raspberry. Not all selections are natives but are expected to thrive on the rooftop because they are shallow-rooted and drought resistant.
City funds are limited, said Kim Niemer, Redding’s community services director, meaning the group is likely to count on getting only engineered soil mix and mulch.
“It might be some parts and some supplies, but that’s it,” she said.
For the new design to be long-lasting, the gardeners will create berms and group the plants together. The subterranean irrigation system will be replaced with bubblers and drip lines to the berms.
Because the soil on the rooftop is designed to drain down, it never made sense to have a subterranean watering system, Baldwin said. It clogged up drains, and the plants did not receive enough moisture to withstand Redding’s hot summers.
Unlike sprinklers, the drip lines will minimize sprouting weeds, Baldwin said.
The gardeners are soliciting proposals from artists.
The garden design has space in the middle of the berms for at least three sculptures, not too heavy and no more than 3- to 4-feet tall.
“Our criteria for this is that it has to reflect something about Northern California, Shasta County or Redding. We want people to look at it and say, ‘Oh yeah. I know what that’s from,’” he said.
How to help
The Shasta College and University of California Master Gardeners seeks volunteers to prepare Redding Library’s roof garden for replanting. It also is soliciting proposals for artwork at the garden.
Donations can be channeled to the Shasta College Master Gardeners, 11555 Old Oregon Trail, Redding, CA 96049. Envelopes should be directed to Leimone Waite, horticulture instructor and coordinator of the master gardeners.