No Holiday Reindeer On This Roof

In Downtown Fallbrook, facing Mission Road, many pass a special green roof-top garden, and hardly ever take notice. This eco-roof belongs to everyone and it’s planted atop the town’s Library!
It’s actually the first ever innovative and award-winning rooftop garden constructed in the San Diego Library system! The Fallbrook Woman’s Club, originally named The Saturday Afternoon Club, helped to establish the San Diego branch Fallbrook Library in 1913. It opened with only 250 books and occupied a small corner of Hardy’s Drugstore.
The public was eager to withdraw books and did so in amazing numbers. There was truly a need for a library.

Since then, the Library has moved a total of eight times and has undergone many changes, including an arson fire in 1985 that completely destroyed the building and its contents. The present day location boasts a state-of-the-art building. The architect designer described it as a modern “Fallbrook comfort.” He said the building “reflected the agricultural nature of Fallbrook,” 3,500- square-foot green roof included. And it does.

The planted roof incorporates native low growing, low water, heat and sun loving plants actually contained in soil trays that are placed atop an over-lapped and seamed plastic slip sheet layer. Excellent drainage is provided by a waterproof membrane, which is sandwiched between thick adhesive, and includes a cleverly hidden gutter system. While providing insulation to the building and lowering air-conditioning costs, it’s an inviting place for insects and birds.

Strategically placed in a modern-day graphic sort of patchwork quilt design, the plants were chosen for their earthy but colorful aesthetics. Originally, many of the plants were ornamental herbs!
Today, the roof design incorporates many varieties of colorful sedum and ice plant. But when first planted, yarrow, allium, speedwell and other ornamental herbs could be found there. Facing west, the varieties of the plants have been changed over the years in order to withstand the sometimes intense heat. And like our gardens, this garden sometimes suffers from weather changes and doesn’t look its best.

Whatever the season, the Library roof-top garden has an important place in Fallbrook history. Admire it the next time you pass by. Better still, stop and walk up to the garden to see how its design flawlessly blends into the rest of
the sculptural metal Library roof. Trust me; you will walk away with a whole new appreciation and sense of community pride. We all are so lucky to have the special gift of our own green roof-top garden.


By Cheryl Balster