Vertical beauties

2 11 2011

When my friend Senthil was visiting in September (to be photographed for the cover of the upcoming November/December 2011 Hearing Loss Magazine), Michael and I dropped him off at the U.S. Capitol building so he could get some photographs. I went over to check out the sprawling vertical garden display outside the U.S. Botanic Garden, which is in view of the Capitol.

Apparently the exhibit has been in place for a couple of years and I just got to see the very end of the exhibit. I can’t find anything on the web regarding who designed it or any details on the types of plants, how-to’s, etc., but I do have some photographs to share. It was really a sight to see—and had I the room to build something like this in my own backyard garden, it would happen in a nanosecond. I shot some closeups so you can see the details. The wood frames have coco fiber “shelf baskets” held into place with wire screen. The plants are tucked either directly into the liner baskets or through holes made in the side of the baskets.

There were a lot of plants that I recognized immediately, including vegetables and ornamental plants, plus herbs such as oregano, sage and basil; various coleus plants, licorice plants, flowering annuals, sweet potato vine, ferns, ivies, catmint and catnip, just to name a few. Read more about vertical gardening here.

Michael and I saw these Woolly Pocket living planters in the gift shop at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden last week. They’re made from recycled plastic bottles and come in unlined (for outdoor use) and lined (for indoor use) versions, along with wall anchors. You can line an entire wall with these pockets (which come in a multitude of sizes and colors), fill them with a variety of plants, and achieve impressive results!

But the type of vertical gardening that makes me swoon are the “succulent gardens” shown on Flora Grubb Garden’s blog here and their main website here. Jaw-dropping beautiful pieces of living art—they remind me of landscapes as seen from the air. Flora Grubb sells the tray components to achieve these looks in your own home or on a garden wall.

Authors and gardeners Susan Morrison and Rebecca Sweet recently published Garden Up! Smart Vertical Gardening for Small and Large Spaces, available here. Author and garden photographer Derek Fell has written Vertical Gardening: Grow Up, Not Out, for More Vegetables and Flowers in Much Less Space, available here. And on my list of books to add to my gardening library is green thumb artist and French botanist Patrick Blanc’s tome The Vertical Garden: From Nature to the City, available here. Want to see some spectacular living walls? Visit Blanc’s website here.

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Is this not the coolest thing ever?

23 11 2008

During our short stop in Huntsville, Sue and Steve treated Michael and me to lunch at Westin Hotel’s Sage Grill (where I feasted on my first fried green tomato ever—now I know what the fuss is about!). Afterward, we browsed the shops at Bridge Street Town Centre, one of Huntsville’s newest shopping malls. I was immediately drawn to the “living walls” at the Anthropologie store. New York-based Elmslie Osler Architect designed the store as well as the living wall—the largest in North America. The installation is constructed with two foot by two foot panels that are three inches deep. The container trays were filled with growing medium and pre-planted with seeds from various sedums. The walls bloom in the spring and stay green throughout the milder winter months in Huntsville. They serve another purpose—extra insulation to reduce energy use. In the summer, the south-facing walls absorb UV rays that cool the building’s interior. The 2,000 square foot wall was created by Green Living Technologies.

There are two categories of green walls: green facades and living walls. Green walls are comprised of climbing plants growing directly on a wall or on specially designed structures. Living walls are composed of pre-vegetated panels or fabric systems that are attached to a frame or structural wall.

The concept of “vertical gardens” or “Le Mur Végétal” was invented by botanist Patrick Blanc. Click here to browse his amazing website with beautiful examples of vertical gardens. They are also known as biowalls.

Read more about Anthropologie’s “edgy and unexpected” store facades here.

Check out this article by architect Randy Sharp—“6 Things You Need to Know About Green Walls.”

Visit www.treehugger.com to see some really beautiful buildings wrapped in living walls.

Learn about maintenance of green walls at www.greenroofs.com

Gardener’s Supply Company sells outdoor living wall planters as well as indoor living wall panels. Click here to see more examples of living walls in their photo center.

I know what my next project is going to be!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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