Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden - Chinese proverb

Friday, 21 August 2009

Gardening Vertically


Gardening vertically's in vogue at the moment. We have Patrick Blanc's amazing creations which look like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon; the RHS shows have been full of edible verticals this year, like Freshly Prepped at Chelsea. There's lots of absolutely stunning ideas and results. I've also seen a couple of vertical gardening products at the shows, so you can go and get the look yourself.

I even considered them for my boring fence project. Using climbers, vines, trellis and wires is just so yesterday, especially when you can install something exciting to do the same job, with very different plants. However, I still haven't got a clue how you'd look after those fancy planters effectively and without bringing the fence down. Sometimes it's good to get out and about and have a look at what the neighbours are doing. The pictured Euonymus from just round the corner, is a good reminder that sometimes simplicity is best.

18 comments:

  1. Absolutely! There's a story in today's Evening Standard about the living wall at Paradise Park in Islington, which I think is the best-known example in London. It's now dying because the watering system failed and the local council is being accused of wasting £100,000 on it. Moral: euonymus rules!

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  2. climbers, tellis, vines out of fashion! Cripes I must go to...Who am I kidding there isn't a trendy nursery in Northern Ireland, I'm never going to get this sorted out. I shall be fashionably unfashionable?! Honeysuckle Climbing Roses and Jasmines rule!

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  3. Can you imagine a vertical garden in this part of wales with the wind!!
    Apart, of course from the gardens that are naturally vertical because they cling to rocks.
    Have a good weekend
    K

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  4. The Euonymus works very well. I can't see the point of vertical gardening if it costs a fortune to maintain and water.
    I'm still looking for climbing plants that grow up and not outwards - and that flower all the way up, not just at the top where you can't see them.
    Self pruning would be nice too :-)

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  5. I clicked to see the gardens of Babylon and was agape at the beauty of it. But reading further, they say there is no soil? And they are lightweight? Hmmm. There was a great wall in the veggie area at the Chicago botanical garden during our spring fling visit planted with herbs. It was outdoors and had to have a drip system to keep it irrigated. Cool looking though. A dry stack wall on a slope with gems planted in the nooks would be doable here. Some of the vines are such beasts about sharing space with others though. :-)
    Frances

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  6. The vertical gardens are interesting but beyond the means of mere mortals so i will stick to my vertical climbers on walls, trellis or whatever else is there. When the garden gets full there is no other way but up and even that gets crowded at times.

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  7. I think thry are very interesing, but did you see the article:

    http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23735279-details/The+living+wall+of+Islington+is+dead/article.do

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  8. Victoria - we have a Sedum vertical wall in the Eco-home development in Chippenham. I must go and see how it's faring...

    Carrie - it's me that's kidding! Whilst I admire the vertical gardens of Patrick Blanc, I do sometimes think we forget there are less complicated solutions which are cheaper and effective. Besides, I've realised that this kind of solution won't work for my boring fence - it just won't support the weight!

    Karen - I think you've nailed it there - you have them already and they're provided by nature!

    EG - it does doesn't it. They only clip it back once a year, so it almost meets your specifications ;)

    Frances - aren't they wonderful? I believe it's hydroponics instead of soil, but as Victoria says, someone's still got to look after it properly and they're the kind of skills that are becoming rarer in the horticulture industry.

    Joanne - one of the solutions I saw (at RHS Inner Temple show) was meant to be a simpler one which could be used at home. However, I don't know of anyone who's actually tried it in that context - I'm available for testing if needed!

    Hermes - thank you, you've saved me from looking up the article Victoria referred to :) Here's the link if anyone else is interested.

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  9. I don't have a head for heights and get dizzy on a stepladder so I don't think that this form of gardening is for me! xx

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  10. PS I've spoken to both product manufacturers and designers at various shows about their designs and products. Before the vertical walls are put in place, there is quite a long period of growing the plants on the flat first to make sure they're established.

    The simpler (and more affordable, but still relatively expensive) product does use some compost. With this one, you either take it off the wall to water, or by a water tank to go over the top to feed the internal irrigation system. Have a look here for more details if you're interested, but I suspect it's going to take a lot for most of us to be tempted away from hanging baskets, flower pouches, trellis, climbers etc. etc.

    Looks like I should do another post on this topic!

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  11. Flighty - your comment came in whilst I was writing my PS. Sounds like your best bet is the traditional climbers route and to get someone else in should any of them get out of hand!

    Have a great weekend everyone.

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  12. The euonymus looks very smart and bright and in keeping with the house.

    I do quite fancy a mini vertical wall with a selection of herbs and salad leaves in like one of the gardens at CHelsea. I think it would need rather more attention than I am likely to remember to give it though.

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  13. Veep
    I notice Wisley for the last two years have grown a wall of begonia near their front entrance not sure that I like it though.

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  14. I trained ivy to grow all up our fence. I want it to get thick and bushy as we have robins and wrens that breed round here.

    The neighbour on that side cuts the ivy as soon as it reaches the top of the fence- he goes along with a pair of scissors. They do it when we're away. I caught one of them going along the bottom of the fence pulling it up by the roots once. Grrrr...

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  15. Le Mur vegetal is spectacular....I have the perfect small wall for one...Now, if only it came with a assistant gardener to keep it neatened, watered and healthy.

    Ivy and many euonymous are on the noxious invasives list here...they are hard to control in this climate zone!

    gail

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  16. Thanks, Hermes, for giving the link to the Standard article. I always forget to do that!

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  17. I love reading the comments generated by blogs. I agree that the trendy stuff is sometimes not right for the average gardener even if the idea is relatively simple. They have lots of helpers - remember that wall featured in Gardeners World? If I did that the soil would just fall straight out.

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  18. Arabella - they do look tempting don't they? However, perhaps the practicalities - and prabably expense - outweigh the effect?

    Joanne - that's interesting. What are they using to hold the begonias onto the wall?

    Helena - that's another alternative and exactly the kind of thing I'm getting at with my piece here. However, I also trained ivy up the fence and it's now taking over my garden :( Perhaps that's what your neighbours are afraid of too?

    Gail - they are fantastic aren't they, but out of each for most of us I fear. If Ivy and Eonymus are bad down your way, I'm sure there must be some alternatives that are good for you to try?

    Garden Mad - good point. I suppose the show gardens etc. are always going to take things just that bit further because they need to have that wow factor. However, I'm sure solutions will be found that will bring them within reach of mere mortals like me. BUT it's still good to remember what other options there are to add height in a planting :)

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