Rooftop gardens could flourish in Campbelltown

Encouraged: Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan curator manager John Siemon said there may be challenges with rooftop gardens in Campbelltown, but the concept certainly wasn't impossible. Picture: Simon Bennett
Encouraged: Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan curator manager John Siemon said there may be challenges with rooftop gardens in Campbelltown, but the concept certainly wasn't impossible. Picture: Simon Bennett

Rooftop gardens in Campbelltown are certainly achievable according to Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan curator manager John Siemon.

Campbelltown councillor Ben Moroney is leading the push for Campbelltown Council to champion the idea in the region as a way to soften the blow of the future high-rise developments.

Mr Siemon said there were some obstacles that would need to be overcome, but there was no reason the concept couldn’t take off locally.

“One of the obvious challenges is that western Sydney is a much hotter place that coastal areas or Sydney city,” he said.

“The gardens are not like standard ones because the depth of soil is limited by the structure it’s built on (in terms of weight bearing). But they can easily grow if the engineering is suitable.”

Rooftop gardens have become the norm in many parts of the world which have been inundated with intense high-rise development, the likes of which are predicted for Campbelltown.

Mr Siemon said one of his favourite green roof buildings was the Chicago Botanic Garden.

NSW Parliament also has an impressive abundance of flora flourishing on its roof.

Suitable: The carpobrotus rossii - also known as karkalla or pig face, would be perfect for rooftop gardens in Campbelltown said the Australian Botanic Garden's John Siemon.

Suitable: The carpobrotus rossii - also known as karkalla or pig face, would be perfect for rooftop gardens in Campbelltown said the Australian Botanic Garden's John Siemon.

Mr Siemon said “resilient, drought-hardy” plants like succulents would be most suitable for Campbelltown rooftops.

Though there were also a lot of native plants that would be ideal.

They included bulbine bulbosa, calandrinia, dianella, lomandra (also the name of a high school in Campbelltown), plectranthus and westringia.

“There are quite a number of plants that could fit the bill depending on how the roof is designed,” he said.

“The capobrotus rossi is a seaside succulent that grows on the coast. It has a succulent leaf and a flower and it would the perfect plant.”

Mr Siemon said if the concept took off, it would have a range of benefits for the local area and its residents.

“If we were able to establish a whole network, you would have a lot of environmental benefits,” he said.

“They are a natural environment rather than a reflective heat surface. The plants absorb the heat and effectively act as a natural insulation product.”

The plants also capture rainfall, reducing pressure on stormwater systems when big downpours occur, reducing the risk of flooding.

Mr Siemon said if barriers including cost, maintenance and engineering could be overcome, then rooftop gardens “should become a part of every new housing development”.

“Wouldn’t it be nice to see a picture from above which shows houses that are part of the environment?”