Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Gardening On A Vertical

Plants love a good challenge... I admire the way they seem to survive thrive in the most death defying situations. You find plants growing in such diverse conditions - from Polar Bear hangouts right through to Desert furnaces. I've seen plants surviving on nothing but air, just clinging to rock faces. In the plethora of conditions that our amazing planet seems to dish out, plants seem to love to rise to any challenge.

Terramesh Wall Halfway Up
Cities pose their fair share of challenges to plants. Green Walls and Vertical Gardens have become 'the new thing' as people try to invite nature back into our inhospitable cities. They are an elegant solution to the stark walls and inert atmosphere of the places that we humans seem to flock to.

Several years ago, I built a green wall on a south-east facing, windswept balcony. Its been interesting to watch the evolutionary growth of the green wall, and I've used it as a proving ground for different plants to see which of them were best suited to this type of environment.
Some plants - particularly ferns seem to reproduce to the point of trying to suffocate everything else. Others, like a small aloe, and several different types of orchids have grown quietly and unassumingly before bursting into surprising flower. You can watch a video of how I built it here.

Green Terramesh being installed
An ongoing project (Romead Business Park) that we have been working on for quite some time, has posed several challenging situations which I hope to elaborate on in the future. One of the challenges, was the lack of space at the main entrance to the Park. We had some large banks that were held in place by a beautifully designed concrete curved wall. But the wall could only be so big before it would start compromising the design of the main entrance.

The final solution was to use a product called Terramesh from Maccaferri. This is woven wire mesh which is back filled and compacted with soil. Plants are then planted into the face, which in time forms a dense groundcover, and should prevent any long term erosion.

Just after planting
We planted up the wall, using a succulent called Crassula multicava. Its a plant with a happy disposition - content to grow on a South facing wall (no sun), and it seeds itself quite readily, and will even survive dry periods and still look very good. It has a pretty pink flower all through the year.
Before
After
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