Lorraine Flanigan - Rooftop Gardens

Meeting, April 27, 2015

Meetings are held at the Bonar-Parkdale Presbyterian Church, 250 Dunn Avenue, just south of Queen Street West. Doors open at 6:30pm. Meetings start informally around 7:00pm and the meeting starts at 7:30pm. Arrive after 6:30pm and enjoy coffee and cookies while you check out the Hort library, chat, and ask questions!

Green roofs have big benefits: from natural air conditioning to stormwater management, and they’re beautiful too! From the installation process to selecting the right plants, Master Gardener Lorraine Flanigan will share her informative and entertaining experiences creating a ‘mezzanine garden’ on her garage.


Whoever said that you can’t have a prairie garden on a shady lot wasn’t thinking outside the box; outside the lot, actually—a typical city lot, that is, of the long narrow, bowling alley variety. With shade proffered by trees on neighbouring lots, you’ve got a tricky situation for creating what should essentially be a full sun style of garden, no doubt! But where there’s a will, there’s a way and Lorraine Flanigan has found it.

Lorraine has a will for gardening that began when she started taking courses from Marion Jarvie at George Brown College in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Having just moved into a new home with an existing garden and only ever really having grown tomatoes and the like, she embarked on an education to help her differentiate annuals from perennials. But like many others, Lorraine asserts, Jarvie turned her on to gardening. In her case, that’s an understatement. She eventually became a Master Gardener (MG) and has volunteered for many years at the Toronto Botanical Gardens (TBG), which she calls her second home. Although Lorraine admits that gardening is her first love, she also loves to write about gardening. She is a freelance writer whose work has been published in Canadian Gardening and Canadian Living magazines, The Globe and Mail and industry publications, and she is a regular contributor to Garden Making magazine. She also hosts the ‘blog-azine’ City Gardening. But back at the TBG she has applied this talent as the editor, since 2002, of the thrice-yearly members magazine, Trellis.

It was nothing like a trellis that Lorraine used to find the sun in her shady garden—and it was not for lack of love for shade garden plants. She is quite fond of the green tapestry that such a garden provides. But her desire to “play with grasses and prairie plants” propelled her to build a roof strong enough for a garden when she decided to replace her old garage. There, “between the sky and the ground” is what she calls her “mezzanine garden”. As they are wont to do, prairie gardens require little maintenance and the rooftop prairie landscape has its grasses cut back and gets a general clean-up about three or four times per year. Most of the work is concentrated in the spring when the largest job is plucking out seedlings of, you guessed it, the neighbours’ shady trees!

For how-tos and photos of Lorraine’s sky-high prairie garden, and many more rooftop oases, don’t miss her presentation, as the last monthly speaker until September for the 2014─2015 season, on April 27th.

Maria Nunes

« Tree Tenders Course | Main | Jeff Mason - Plants for the Naturalistic Garden »