rain gardens

Urban greenery in Vancouver

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A green roof on top of a skyscraper, as seen from the Granville bridge
A green roof on top of a skyscraper, as seen from the Granville bridge

Last week I was in Vancouver (Canada) for work, and in amongst the conference and meetings I had a chance to walk through most areas of the city.

It’s a lovely city. It’s also interesting to see little patches of greenery popping up in unlikely spots.

This includes a green roof on top of a skyscraper (above), and community gardens squeezed into unused spaces (below). There were also a few rain gardens, which looked to have been installed as part of the preparation for the Winter Olympics, which were held here a few years back.

Say what you like about top-down policies and strategies for addressing climate change. Even in the absence of these, cities around the world are undergoing a quiet revolution that is connecting people to communities, food and the environment.

Community garden alongside disused railway tracks, south of the CBD.
Community garden alongside disused railway tracks, south of the CBD.
Community garden, right in the heart of the city.
Community garden, right in the heart of the city.
Greening a roundabout: "This street garden is being cared for by a local resident involved in the Green Streets Program."
Greening a roundabout: “This street garden is being cared for by a local resident involved in the Green Streets Program.”
Rain garden, near Vancouver's stadiums.
Rain garden, near Vancouver’s stadiums.
Large scale urban agriculture, right at the foot of the huge stadium.
Large scale urban agriculture, right at the foot of the huge stadium.

Simple rain gardens

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Michael Mobbs has blogged about a very simple approach to rain gardens, where water off rooftops is used to sustain pavement gardens. To quote:

Notice how the water from the downpipe is being diverted by a Barloch water diverter located about 1 m high above the pavement so that rainwater, which would otherwise flow to the gutter and be wasted, may be directed by gravity below the footpath to water the garden beds some metres away.

This is exactly the sort of simple, low-tech approach that we should be using more of…