I doubt pink is the colour people would associate with me. They’d be right too, though I have been accused many a time of looking at life through ‘rose-tinted spectacles’ – a gift I definitely inherited from my dear mother, Muriel, who departed this earth 12 years ago to the day (Aug 14th). However, my favourite vintage Vivienne Westwood sunglasses actually have green glass in them. That’s much more me. Wearing them on a sunny day the world really does look more vibrant and I’m not alone in thinking this. According to biographer Richard Holmes, one of my literary heroes Samuel Taylor Coleridge bought a pair of green solar spectacles in Portsmouth in 1804 just before embarking for Malta on the Speedwell. The last two lines of Holmes’ Coleridge: Early Visions were quirky and wonderful: ‘He found that the flat mahogany rudder-case would serve as his writing desk, and the duck-coops around it could be stacked into a sort of armchair for him to sit on. He took up his position, gazing up at the stars, while the caged ducks “quacked at” his legs companionably’ (P.361). How cool is that?
I’m sure I’d have liked Coleridge, or STC as he preferred to be called. His feeling for the natural world is something I share but it’s the simple truths about life he recognised that I’m drawn to most. He knew that ‘What comes from the heart, goes to the heart’; ‘Good and bad men are each less so than they seem’; ‘He is the best physician who is the most ingenious inspirer of hope’; ‘No one does anything from a single motive’ and although ‘Love is flower-like: friendship is like a sheltering tree.’
I wasn’t wearing my green sun glasses on Wednesday May 11th however when I noted that green was migrating along the roofline. The south gable was finished and the guys were now working around the dormer windows in the eaves of the main east façade.
Giuseppe, once again, was able to supply us with a much better view.
Around the same time, G took some fantastic photos of the roofline, an area of the building I’ve become more and more fascinated by as the work has gone on. The history is there for all to see up there.
On the new build, work was continuing on the metal cladding – a slow process, it seems – and window surrounds were being added.
Peter was hard at work on the pick up once again, moving sections of the recently-delivered air-conditioning system so they could be lifted up onto the roof, so I was looked after by Dave that day.
Dave is new to the site. He comes from Yorkshire and was happy to escort me around but proved more camera shy than the other guys. When I learned the living green roof was now on site, to say I was tickled pink was an understatement. This was my ‘story’ of the day!
So what exactly IS a living green roof? It didn’t turn out to be quite as green as I’d anticipated, but is certainly ‘green’ in the eco-sense. A green roof has many environmental benefits such as absorbing rain water, capturing pollutants and providing a natural habitat for wildlife. Ours is a sedum blanket grown on carpet-like matting. Apparently honey-bees, ladybirds and butterflies all love sedum. Butterflies always remind me of Mum. I saw a Cabbage White today.
Dave opened up the netting on one of the pallets so I could see the ‘living’ side close up. It was like nothing I’d seen before. The scale was so small and the pinky-green colour was really very beautiful.
There are a number of types of sedum roof. From the red hue, it’s likely ours is sedum album ‘Coral Carpet’, a mat-forming evergreen sedum with small, fleshy, red-flushed leaves and white star flowers.
Since the roof-top terrace garden will basically be the preserve of the Science Department, when I spotted the tiniest piece of matting lying upside down in the dirt on my way out, I put it into my pocket. When I got back to Eskdale, I found it a plate and added some water. Since NHSG Science students will be working in this environment soon, I passed it on to Lynda Lant, our Senior Science Technician. I do hope the girls were suitably intrigued by it. An avid supporter of scientific enquiry himself, Coleridge gave a series of lectures at the Royal Institution on ‘Poetry and the Imagination’. Living in ‘The Age of Wonder’, I’m 100% sure STC would have seen and felt its beauty.