For gardeners short on space, plantable walls have become the latest must-have piece of horticultural property
With careful plant selection and some degree of effort to get the infrastructure and irrigation right, vertical gardens are springing up in unlikely places around the world. Here are some of our favorite examples both large and small.
1. Woolly Pocket: Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles laid-back hipsters love to garden naturally - or at least that's what the unusual Woolly Pocket marketing campaign would have us believe. It features nude natives from the eco-cool area of Silver Lake lounging around whilst tending hanging planted installations. The soft panels, made of hand-stitched felt lined with recycled plastic moisture barriers, can be hung on almost any wall. The product's inventor, Miguel Nelson, claims they won't leak even indoors.
Amelia B Lima & Associates
To get a sense of privacy in their gardens, most homeowners install walls, fences or hedges. However, garden designer Amelia Lima turned a plain 40ft-long barrier into a wall garden of tropical plants and ferns in her narrow San Diego side garden. To keep things interesting all year round, the lush arrangement of plants depends more on leaf pattern and color rather than flowers. All that's missing is a jungle waterfall, but a re-circulating drip irrigation system keeps the plants watered instead.
3. The Quai Branly Museum by Patrick Blanc: Paris, France
In a short span of time, green-haired plant scientist and author Patrick Blanc has gone from something of an enfant terrible to become the father of the vertical garden movement. He has a number of high-profile modernist projects around the world including The Quai Branly Museum in his hometown of Paris. Inspired by planting ideas that he noticed on his excursions through tropical rainforests in Southeast Asia, his large gardens grow without soil in a special layer of felt fabric that helps insulate the planted building through all seasons. In such installations, the species are hardy enough to withstand cold French winters. C'est fantastique!
4. Flora Grubb: San Francisco, California
Nursery owner Flora Grubb sets a high bar for gardening trends in her influential Bay Area store in San Francisco. Bay Area is trendy and rich, so any new fad is sure to take off. This wall panel is made of several 20in x 20in trays planted with a colorful tapestry of 2in potted succulents, such as cactus plants. The drought-tolerant wall only needs to be hosed down every few days depending on the weather.
Sammy Todd Dyess , Hotel Bardessono
Flora Grubb created another distinctive green wall at one of her garden design projects for the modernist lobby of the Hotel Bardessono near Napa. This time, she installed a minimalist arrangement of tillandsias - plants that gather moisture and nutrients from the air - attached to small metal spikes set at regular intervals. The undemanding plants, which grow without the need of soil, are misted every few days.
Landscape architects Jane Hansen and Kurt Lango created a monumental green wall for the courtyard of the Hotel Modera in Portland using a variety of perennials - hardy plants such as roses - and even a few small shrubs. The sideways garden leaves the main area free for parties or gatherings from the adjacent bar. No one would now mistake the stylish space for what it once was - the parking lot of a Days Inn Motel!
7. Flowerbox Building: New York, NY
It's not a green wall per se, but the façade of the Flowerbox Building in New York's East Village is a veritable hanging garden. Mac Carbonell, of Verdant Gardens Design in Brooklyn, designed the impressive infrastructure of metal flower boxes along with architect Derek Sanders. The automatic irrigation system is connected up to the new building's plumbing so tenants are not troubled with the burden of summer watering. Sounds like the perfect window box to us.