Prairie Roof Garden

The Prairie Roof Garden, located atop the library building, consists of indigenous food plants and native medicine plants from local prairies. Prairies in the South Puget Sound provide evidence for a complex and positive relationship between indigenous peoples and plants. These cultural landscapes provide habitat for many rare and endangered species that depend on these human manipulated habitats.

This garden supports the study of plant evolution from spore bearing species that appear earliest in the fossil record to the more recently evolved flowering plants. Modeled after a similar garden in Strybing Arboretum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, visitors can view spore bearing plants (moss, club moss, and ferns), gymnosperms (cycads and conifers), and primitive flowering plants (anemones and hellebores). Cycads are represented by a public art piece by Greener grad Deborah Mersky. Along with pollinators, the piece portrays the multiflagellate sperm of cycads, a primitive character. In the future we hope to establish a small grove of monkey puzzle trees to help students imagine the Jurrasic and Triassic landscapes with dinosaurs cohabitating. Refer to Raven et al. 2005 and Stewart and Rothwell (1993), for more information on plant evolution.

How to get to the garden:

Go to the library top floor or up the clock tower staircase to the top floor. 

Teaching Resources:

  • Green Roofs Resource Portal
  • Kruckeberg, Arthur.  1995.  The Natural History of Puget Sound Country.  University Washington Press.  Seattle, WA.
  • Leopold, Estella and Robert Boyd.  1999.  An Ecological History of Old Prairie Areas in Southwestern Washington. In Boyd, R. 1999.  Indians, Fire, and the Land in the Pacific Northwest .  Oregon State University Press.  Corvallis, OR.
  • Norton, H. H. 1979. The association between anthropogenic prairies and important food plants in western Washington. Northwest Anthropological Research Notes 13: 175-200.
  • Raven, Peter; Ray Evert; and Susan Eichhorn. 2005. Biology of Plants, 7th Edition W.H. Freeman and Company. Worth Publishers. New York.
  • W. N. Stewart & G. W. Rothwell 1993. Paleobotany and the Evolution of Plants, 2nd edition Cambridge, New York, Port Chester, Melbourne, Sydney: Cambridge University Press.
  • For more teaching gardens resources that can be accessed online, click the Resources Tab