Linda GreenVertical gardens & greenwalls

Ever since I heard Patrick Blanc’s presentation on vertical gardens at the Australian Landscape Conference held in Melbourne in 2007 I have had a narrow view of what constitutes a vertical garden but the wide variety of vertical garden styles on display at the Singapore Garden Festival (Singapore GF) has caused me have a rethink.

The vertical garden that I usually picture is perhaps more accurately described as a greenwall – a fairly solid structure completely covered in plants as epitomised by Patrick Blanc’s works that are dotted all around the world. His vertical gardens include huge works of living art adorning high rise buildings and even sculptural works such as those at the Chateau de Chaumont in France which I spoke about on an earlier blog.

It seems to me that many greenwalls are installed primarily to create an instant wow factor which they do admirably. Some of the other styles of vertical gardens on show at the Singapore GF were more practical in style but many also looked very attractive and dramatic. After hearing Patrick Blanc’s inspiring presentation I wanted to create a vertical garden for myself. It took a while before an opportunity presented itself but eventually I was able to design a greenwall into a courtyard where, despite its modest size and simple plant selection, it created an instant focal point. (see left)

 

Generally greenwalls are designed and installed by professionals because they are fairly permanent structures where knowledge of design, engineering, building regulations, reticulation, drainage and horticulture all have to be integrated.

 

Although greenwalls were featured at the Singapore GF there was also a huge range of exciting new products, many of which were of the ‘do it yourself’ variety. Often the plants were grown in decorative containers unlike those of the greenwalls which are usually black modules where the aim is to hide the underlying structure with the plants. It isn’t always obvious but most vertical gardens (including greenwalls) are grown hydroponically and this feature was quite visible in some of the vertical garden planters on display at the Festival.

 

 

In the past in Perth (and most of Australia except perhaps the densely populated centres of Sydney and Melbourne) there hasn’t been the same need to garden vertically as there is in Singapore. Most people here have the luxury of living on a property that suits the level of gardening that they want to do however this is changing as more apartments are built and suburban lots become smaller. Recently we have seen many traditional vegie patches shrink to become raised vege planters and a few people have created their own vertical vegie gardens but in Singapore they are embracing very sophisticated vertical garden systems to grow all sorts of edible crops.

Although most people are aware of the benefits of having indoor plants they haven’t been that popular over the last few years. Perhaps there will be a new trend to do so using vertical garden planters if the displays at the Singapore GF are anything to go by. Instead of having the odd pot plant tucked away in a corner or sitting on a table the new way would be to have them hanging on the wall or displayed on specially designed stands. Sadly because of the limited market in Perth the variety of vertical garden planters available is very limited. I would really love to try out a few different styles so hopefully the range will be expanded in the near future. I didn’t have time to buy any while I was in Singapore last time but I’m heading back there soon so maybe I can pick up a few to try!

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Linda Green

About Linda Green

Linda is a landscape designer and horticulturist living in Fremantle, Western Australia. In 1988 she established Hidcote Landscapes and she still finds starting a new garden design a thrilling prospect. She loves visiting inspiring gardens overseas and exploring the bush closer to home. For more information visit www.hidcote.com.au.

10 thoughts on “Vertical gardens & greenwalls

  1. AliCat on said:

    HI Linda
    I was also at the Landscape Conference in 2007, but chose not to sit through Patrick Blanc’s second discussion because I couldn’t understand a word of what he was saying. I was not alone in this as there were quite a few others out in the foyer complaining of the same thing.
    His work is fantastic I will grant, and the pictures that you show, especially of the bromeliads are superb. But I have seen external vertical gardens in Melbourne that have not fared as well. I think that the humidity is not high enough to do justice to the concept.
    Alison

    • Linda on said:

      Hi Alison, Champ and Simon
      Sorry I haven’t replied sooner but I have just gone back to this blog and discovered your comments. I got the gist of Patrick Blanc’s presentation and his enthusiasm and the way he approached the plant selection and design as an artist won me over. The bromeliad green wall in my courtyard has been surprisingly very low maintenance but the site and the plants were selected to suit. I used Elmich VGM Green Wall modules as a “do it yourself” project – designing the surrounding structure, reticulation and drainage so that it was all integrated was the hard part!

  2. champ on said:

    Hi Linda – I was also at the Conference on 2007 – we then had Patrick speak last year at our green roof conference in Sydney. He is an amazing artist but I am yet to see his system work in Aust. We have some amazing and successful green wall systems here in Aust – Mark Paul http://www.greenwall.com.au has been designing and installing them here for the last 20 years – with huge success indoors and out – they can work here they just need to be properly specified/ designed / installed and maintained – like all successful gardens. I have now been involved with the greenroof and wall industry here in Aust since 2007 when I was on the founding executive of Green Roofs Australasia Inc. in that time I have seen many successful greenwalls installed across Aust.

  3. Try the Gro-Wall system, it’s versatile, easy to construct, can include drip irrigation for each plant and it is reasonably priced. I did a lot of research into vertical gardens because I wanted to include one in my own gardens, this system solved many of the issues commonly encountered in vertical gardens.

  4. Lee on said:

    Hi, whilst I don’t live in Singapore I do need vertical gardens as I live right in the City of Adelaide; my garden confined by a lack of space. Quite often I am frustrated by splendid articles as I don’t know the names of featured plants. I am experimenting with my own version of a vertical garden hanging over rainwater tanks. If at all possible could these very clever garden designers please name plants so lamentably unenlightened gardening novices like me can borrow ideas. I did enjoy your article Linda.

    • Linda on said:

      Thanks Lee
      I think it’s great that you are experimenting with your own version – trial and error is the best way to find out what will work in your particular situation. Of course you need to have some idea of the type of plants that might be suitable or you will have a disaster on your hands. I have just set up another small vertical garden and I will do a blog on it in the near future and include some tips on plant selection.
      Good luck in the meantime.

  5. margaret fowler on said:

    could you please tell me how to order your decorative vertical pots.

  6. Linda on said:

    Hi Margaret
    Unfortunately I don’t know where you can purchase the decorative vertical pots from as I have never seen them for sale in Australia. I’m always hopeful that some enterprising business will eventually import them. The pots (but not the vertical wall) were all photographed at the Singapore Garden Festival so you may be able to contact the organizer or buy them on line. Good luck.

  7. Hello Linda, Thought you may like to know about this simple non hydroponic steel system from Eden Now which has been in Australia for over 10 years now.
    It may suit the Perth climate because of its HUGE root zone which does not dry out quickly or have extremes swings in soil temp. Oasis use it and Australian city providers also for streetscapes but it is great for growing veggies in as you can dig in it. Being steel, weight is a consideration but the system can be double sided and also freestanding if you don’t want to mount it on a wall. Cheers,

    • Linda on said:

      Thanks for the tip Carole. There has definitely been an increase in the number of vertical garden products becoming available in the last few years and it seems that there is now a product available to suit most situations and budgets.

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