Make your own Vertical Garden

13 08 2009

roblisameehan - Flickr CC

One of the most popular pages on my blog is about Vertical Gardening.  It talks about the origins of the concept and where various examples can be found – but it doesn’t tell you how to make one.  Now, having done further research on the Westfield Wall and the famous French botanist who leads the way in Vertical Gardening design – i’ve written this post – Do-It-Yourself Vertical Gardening…

Vertical gardening is a concept popularized by French botanist Patrick Blanc, which he calls Le Mur Végétal (The Vegetable Wall).  
My first experience of a Vertical Garden was at Westfield shopping centre in Shepherd’s Bush.  After doing a bit of research on the subject i discovered Patrick Blanc and wondered if the Westfield Green Wall was one of his.  It isn’t.

One of the comments i received on the Vertical Garden post stated that Patrick Blanc might sue Westfield as he has worldwide patents.  Eek.  After doing a bit more digging i find that Patrick is indeed quite protective over his work, as according to his website, “The Vegetal Wall is protected in particular by copyright.”

Patrick Blanc copyright

He goes on to say that “any image of the Vegetal Wall that is not strictly private… will require the preliminary and written authorization of Patrick Blanc.”  Oops.  Does that mean he’ll be after me for posting pictures of them on my blog?  (In my defense – your honour – i did email him about my post but he never replied).

Due to an amusing grammatical error in the statement above, it seems that Westfield will actually be safe with their wall, as “no commercial or promotional will require the preliminary and written authorization of Patrick Blanc.”

Anyway.  I digress.  The purpose of this post was to show in more detail how the Westfield Green Wall works, with the aid of pictures, so you can recreate it in your back garden.

Westfield Green WallThe ‘Living Wall’ at Westfield was designed by EDAW – the firm of architects responsible for ‘the distinctive landscape and public realm.’  The wall is 170 metres long and 4.5 metres high.

Westfield green wall plantsThe wall is north-facing and is made up “predominantly with native woodland plants, primarily ferns” as well as native flowers such as violets.  If anyone is green-fingered enough to name other specific plants/flowers – could you please add to the comments?  It would be much appreciated.

A press release on EDAW’s website describes in more detail the physical construction of the wall –

“Westfield London incorporates a modular living-wall system manufactured by Canadian firm ELT and planted by Aldingbourne Nurseries. The living wall is constructed from modular plastic panels. Each section is approximately 50cm high by 50cm wide by 8cm deep, is subdivided into 45 cells and can be stacked to the required height and width.”

Detail of Green Wall

This is called the Easy Green system which was actually developed by ELT (Elevated Landscape Technologies) and is solely distributed in the UK by Aldingbourne Nurseries.

Side view of vertical wall planter

From the pictures you can see that the plants are growing in soil.  This is different from Patrick Blanc’s copyrighted Mur Végétal as he describes on his website it is “composed of three parts: a metal frame, a pvc layer and a layer of felt.”

Patrick Blanc Vertical Garden instructions

It is the felt layer which the roots grow into and nutrients are delivered through a top-down watering system.  Patrick’s wall is less than 30kg per square metre – whereas the Easy Green system weighs in at a hefty 64kg per metre squared. (Each Easy Green module is 500mm x 500mm x 60mm deep and weighs 16kg).

Both systems water from the top, with the Westfield Wall collecting excess water below the wall.  Patrick’s technique relies on the capillary action of the material so i presume the water is more effectively distributed.

Living Walls, Mur Végétals, Bio-Walls, Green Walls or Vertical Gardens – whatever you call them and however you do them – are brilliant because they – 

  • Look great
  • Save space
  • Provide habitat for wildlife
  • Reduce noise
  • Cool urban areas in hot weather
  • Filter the air

And so armed with all this knowledge i intend to create my own Vertical Garden.  I will post the results when complete!  

If you’re reading this and plan to have a go yourself – let me know – we can create a gallery of our efforts.  Good luck – and don’t get sued.

:)

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55 responses

30 08 2009
Kim

Please let me know if you have made your own living wall/vertical garden and if you have how did you construct it? What materials did you use? Can I see it? I really want to do this myself (on and indoor wall, without using any soil) like Patrick Blanc’s system, you know, with the felt and water irrigation system. Please email me if you have accomplished this task or if not. Thank you. Kim

7 09 2009
HotNat

Hi Kim – I haven’t undertaken the task yet but it’s definitely on my list of things to do!

I think the trickiest thing to master would be the irrigation system if you went down the felt route.

From my limited knowledge, there’s always some kind of drip tray/recirculation system to keep the water off the carpet and in the plants!

I would also suggest lining the wall behind the plants with a waterproof layer – either plastic sheeting or tiling over a waterproof layer. This would minimise the potential damage that could be done to a wall in your home.

I will keep posting pictures of the walls and aim to provide as much detail as possible – so keep checking back
:o)

4 09 2009
Felicity Waters

Hi Natalie – just thought I’d let you know Garden Beet is stocking a new vertical gardening product – it will be on my website on the 11/9/09 …it looks very chic indeed and can be used indoors and outdoors – made from recycled plastics, allows the plants to breath and does not drip –

4 09 2009
7 09 2009
HotNat

Hi Felicity –
Thanks for sharing this! You would not believe the amount of interest i have in Vertical Gardens!

For those of you who would like to experiment with Vertical Gardening – have a look at Felicity’s website – particularly this page – http://www.gardenbeet.com/plantersandpots.html

There’s also some really clear instructions on how to assemble and maintain your vertical garden – along with great pictures.
:o)

Felicity – as you’re based in London (Twickenham) – please feel free to email me with any new & exciting products/events you ‘re involved in and i’ll help spread the word.

Natalie

7 09 2009
Felicity Waters

hi all I will be building my own mini vertical wall in London using woolly pockets – starting this weekend – photos will be supplied

stock will arrive this friday from the US – I am a landscape architect so hopefully I can help with your design issues….the product i will be using is called wolly pockets…further details can be found at http://www.gardenbeet.com

7 09 2009
Felicity Waters

natalie – where are you based? more than welcome to come and have a look at the products as soon as they arrive – I am looking for a great public space to install one – the design would be free but i would need to charge for materials, plants, soil, pockets ….etc…any business out there fancy a new wall to liven up their life? some funky cafe? near me would help

7 09 2009
HotNat

Hi Felicity –
I’m based in West London (near Ealing)

I would love to see them – but would be more keen to see them in action and think the public space idea is a great one.

I’ll have thinks if i know anyone/businesses around that way…
:o)

7 09 2009
kenn

hi

i can’t see the webpage www. gardenbeet.com. is it just me or what????
i’m really curios about the vertical gardening thing :)

7 09 2009
HotNat

Hi Kenn –
I can’t see it either! Thanks for alerting us!

I was looking at it this morning so i can only think there’s a technical hiccup and to keep trying. In the meantime – did you see my other article on Vertical Gardening? – https://hotspotting.wordpress.com/2009/05/10/vertical-gardening/

Are you planning on doing some yourself?

Felicity – what’s going on with your website?!

:)

7 09 2009
kenn

hey

yes i am. just don’t know how. i think my biggest problem is how the watering is going to work. right now i’m also thinking about what would be the best thing to put on the back so the wall won’t get moulded.

have you started any projects yet… do you have any pics…

7 09 2009
HotNat

I haven’t started yet – i think i’m too in awe of the great ones i’ve already seen!

When the gardenbeet website works you’ll see that their containers are waterproof so they say you don’t need to line the wall.

If you’re going totally DIY i would physically cover the wall with a solid plastic/metal board – like you use to fit out a shower. I would prep the wall separately and then construct the planter.

The watering set-up could get overly complicated. I would say for a small indoor wall you get away with physically watering it with a watering can rather than constructing elaborate pump and guttering.

I think my first wall will start REALLY simple. I’m more worried about which plants to pick!

Any thoughts?

7 09 2009
Felicity Waters

opps sorry …yes am working on SEO and changed page names ….

http://www.gardenbeet.com

should work now!!

7 09 2009
HotNat

Yup! Can see it all again!

7 09 2009
kenn

well my wall is going to be outside and would be about 7-8 m2… i’m thinking about planting in insulation. hard insulation, i’ve heard that plants can grow in that. right now it’s just a thought. but if it works, then it would be very simple, and then maybe covering with some chicken fence or something. just don’t know how long time the insulation will last before it falls to pieces. and still a problem… the watering…. could be physically. the insulation will probably stay wet for a longer time than normal soil…

7 09 2009
HotNat

Interesting…
From doing my research on Patrick Blanc etc i would say to bear in mind the weight of the insulation – particularly once it was soaked with water.
And talking of water – i reckon the key is to have nutrient-rich water if you’re doing away with soil…

This is a really fascinating subject. Are you blogging? If you do make the wall it would be really great to link to it on here.

Perhaps Felicity has some thoughts on material that plants can grow in. I think her planters are made of wool – is that right?

7 09 2009
Felicity Waters

Hi all
Woolly pockets are primarily made of recycled plastic bottles and the growing medium is soil

I have seen installations where the plants get all their nutrients from water …and thereby reduce your loadings on the walls (no soil – less weight)…

8 09 2009
HotNat

My mistake – Woollys not actually made of wool!
:o)

Are they getting alot of interest from customers?

8 09 2009
kenn

now i’ve seen gardenbeet.com, but this is not how my wall is going to be. allthough it’s a great idea… though a bit expensive :)
i’m more into a fully covered wall, like patrick blanc makes them. i’m not blogging yet. i’ll use this autumn and winter to find out how i’ll make it and then i’ll make it in the spring.

so far i know i want some moss and hedera and if i’m using soil, then i’ll try with some strawberryplants i guess :)

but i’m still thinking about the construction…and about the watering system, if there has to be one…. that requires a kind of engine and would cost quite a few money to keep that going all year around…

8 09 2009
Felicity Waters

Yes, there is some interest but I have not started advertising the product yet …………will keep you posted

8 09 2009
HotNat

Defo Felicity – look forward to it.

Kenn – maybe you could use a small pump? It wouldn’t need to be on all the time – maybe a few minutes every other day?

I will keep thinking and take lots of pictures of Patrick Blanc’s 2 designs in London…

:o)

8 09 2009
kenn

hi hotnat

thanks… it’s not a problem for me to design it. knows how it’s gonna look :) but don’t know how i’ll make it… yet… i’ll sure i find out…

9 09 2009
HotNat

Kenn – I’ll pay special attention to the bits behind the flowers! Await my findings…
:)

11 09 2009
HotNat

Check out this blog post on The Athenaeum’s vertical garden aka – The Grass Tower of Doom!

http://artofscience.wordpress.com/2009/09/10/grass-tower-of-doom/

13 09 2009
gardenbeet

Guys are you aware that the islington green wall (on a public building) has died? please refer to the follwoing website for my little summary on the whole issue – ignore the fisrt paragraph as I am advertising the pockets ……click through to teh archiects links

http://gardenbeet.wordpress.com/

13 09 2009
gardenbeet

Also just wanted to add

vertical gardens, like any other planting arrangement will only thrive if it is suitably maintained and correctly designed from the outset.

Its such a shame that the Islington Green Wall died but surely this is an opportunity to learn?

Maybe greenwalls are not appropriate for public funded landscapes. Westfield will probably make sure their maintenance is kept in check.

14 09 2009
HotNat

Hi Felicity –
Thanks for the update. That’s a real shame :( It was on my list of ones to check out.

Did you know there’s quite a sorry attempt of a vertical wall down at the O2 arena in Greenwich? There’s no imagination or variation of plant species.

I got to see The Athenaeum and The Driver’s walls the other day – update coming on my blog today…

There seemed to be a few patches of poor growth of The Driver. It still looks amazing but it must be difficult to tend to the plants when they’re halfway up a three-storey building!

14 09 2009
gardenbeet

no haven’t see the greenwich one …look forward to your shots…..

14 09 2009
HotNat

Here we go – The Athenaeum’s very own bio-wall…

https://hotspotting.wordpress.com/2009/09/11/sneaky-snapshots/

Enjoy
:)

14 09 2009
kenn

i’m quite sure, that having a vertical plant wall isn’t the easiest thing… but compared to how well it looks, i’m sure i still want to make one.

but could be nice to know how mr. blancs watering-system works.

and is the plants really just growing in the felt or in the thick pvc layer??? it sounds so simple…

15 09 2009
HotNat

Hi Kenn –
The watering system is really the last bit of the puzzle…

When i spoke to the staff at The Driver restaurant in King’s Cross (worth a visit) they said that the water comes on every half an hour. They also said if the wind’s blowing in a certain direction you feel it standing on the street!

The wall’s i’ve seen up-close – Greenwich (poor) and The Athenaeum (great) – these walls are constantly dripping into the water collection area at the bottom.

I remember reading that the aim is to mimic the rainforest style of watering. Nutrients are added to regular tap water and the whole system seems to regulate itself.

That being said – i think you could get similar results with a non-automated system and just remind yourself to water it each day!

15 09 2009
gardenbeet

I have stumbled accross a vertical shoe hanging garden ‘movement’-

check out http://www.curbly.com/DIY-Maven/posts/6884-how-to-turn-a-hanging-pocket-shoe-organizer-into-a-vertical-garden

Pretty good use!

It also seems that there is a trend to grow plants in containers other than plant pots……however that is probably for another blog page ……but it did get me thinking how different types of containers could be used in the vertical garden ….such as rigging up a frame to hold cans (that had a good advertising graphic) and growing plants in the cans….the pattern of the advertising could look great with the foliage …..this is not the most robust idea but could look great as a temporary installation

16 09 2009
HotNat

Funny you say this!

I spotted a nursery next to the River Lee that had plants in all sorts of containers – mostly handbags!

I’ll find a pic and do a separate post – great spotting.
Actually – if it’s something you would like to write about you could be a guest writer on Hotspotting?!

Have a think and let me know if you’d like to cover it
Nat
x

16 09 2009
gardenbeet

I would love to but it will need to be after 12th October as my website was just given 11 out of 30 for its ecommerce functionality by sitemakers……I have heaps of work to do!!

If you can wait until then I would be honoured (am also going to Caboneras in spain for 2 weeks – very arid landscape so maybe I might spot some good planting arrangements for our more water deprived vertical gardens).

The wally pockets are due tonight. Most excited.

16 09 2009
HotNat

Of course it can wait – brilliant!

I look forward to seeing pics of the pockets and we await feedback on dry plants – i’m sure Kenn will be keen to know how to avoid building an entire water feature!

Good luck with the ecommerce functionality – sounds nightmare-ish!

:)

17 09 2009
kenn

hi

i think i’ll use some sedum plants. they don’t need that much water. BUT i’ve found some material that can keep the water for a longer time than soil. It’s a product i found on a danish webpage… I’ve also managed to find out how i’m going to built the construction with which kind of material and so on… but it’s a bit difficult to explain in english for me, since i’m danish…. but i’m thinking about making a blog about the project/experiment… with pictures :) alot of them…. and the wall isn’t about 7 m2, it’s nearer to 5 m2 :)
and i’m going to water it my self…..hehe

18 09 2009
HotNat

I think you should DEFINITELY blog it – people will be really interested in it – I would be really interested in it! Could you write some stuff about it that we could include on here?

And watering it yourself sounds like a good plan for your first attempt!

What’s the Danish product you found?

21 09 2009
gardenbeet

hey all – went to Glee on the weekend (Gardening Trade show) – there was another product on the market that may be of interest to the vertical garden followers

it is made by a french company – allows plants to be grown indoors and outdoors – so similar to the wally pockets that gardenbeet stocks – however they are more rigid – they look good and also come with a stand that would be great for a room divider – their website is http://www.vertis.net …..also they have a plant list that they recommend for vertical gardening

ahhh…have been super busy since the wally pockets arrived – a photographer friend of mine has one wally five and two wally one’s in her garden – they look amazing! of course some great photos will be posted soon

21 09 2009
gardenbeet

oooppps spelling mistake in the previous link to the french product

http://www.vertiss.net

22 09 2009
HotNat

Thank you for sharing this! I think this page is turning into the wiki for Vertical Gardening! Brilliant stuff.

Maybe you could become the UK distributor for the vertiss system?

:)

24 09 2009
Container Planting – new trends? « Gardenbeet's Blog

[…] before in gardening history but I am going to be on the hunt for 2009 -10 examples and submit to Nat’s Hot spotting blog..Data collection can happen […]

4 10 2009
HotNat

I’m really looking forward to seeing your 10 examples!
:)

30 09 2009
kenn

i’ve now created my blog about my green wall/living wall.It’s in danish, but i translate some of it… mostly the items about green wall/living wall….

http://ellinghaus.blogspot.com/

4 10 2009
HotNat

Hey Kenn –
GORGEOUS balcony – definitely a perfect space for the vertical wall.
Will link to your new blog from my list.
:)

1 10 2009
Garden Beet

ken-the site looks great…love your balcony..

3 10 2009
kenn

thanks… it’s still in it’s beginning, but it will grow bigger, both the blog and the plants on the balcony. hopefully you’ll continue following my site. when it comes to the part about construction the living wall, i’ll make sure it will be in english too.

4 10 2009
kenn

hey again

i’ve just did som rearrangement at my site, so my blog is now http://minaltan.blogspot.com/ and the other site is only with the plants that i might plant on my balcony.
take a look, i think it’s better now :)

4 10 2009
HotNat

I really like the mini photo gallery on the front page. I wonder if i can get something like that on WordPress…? Will investigate…

27 10 2009
Garden Beet

hi natalie – just been informed that there is a new green wall in anthropologie in London – opened last week –

check out India Knights blog
http://indiaknight.posterous.com/anthropologie-first-look

7 11 2009
HotNat

It’s AMAZING! I know the store in New York! Wow – Regent Street is my first stop next week for a closer look!

Vertical Gardens – they’re taking over the world!

28 10 2009
Garden Beet

ok now have done my own review and linked this site – as a place for people to help each with their own DIY green wall

http://gardenbeet.blogspot.com/2009/10/green-wall-anthropologie-london-i-want.html

7 11 2009
HotNat

Hi Felicity – great blog post. I love the description of this page being like a self-help group for vertical garden enthusiasts !

One thing to amend – the Westfield Wall isn’t a Blanc creation. It’s the architects who did Westfield. (The Patrick Blanc wall can be seen at The Driver and The Athenaeum).

Apologies for not being active online recently – had a bit of a visit to the hospital (thankfully not through any blogging or research activities!)

Anyways – back on the blog and the Vertical Garden exploration.

Next stop Regent Street!
:)

29 10 2009
livingwall

I’m a huge fan of living walls.. it never ceases to amaze me how many different ways there are to build them.

7 11 2009
HotNat

Truly! Thanks for finding my blog and commenting – your site looks brilliant! Loads of great ideas for budding vertical gardeners. I LOVE the youtube video that’s on there.


Feel free to link back to the London examples i’ve written about – The Athenaeum and The Driver. And the soon to be photographed Anthropologie! ;)

18 01 2010
Inspiration Wall

[…] via landscapeisqashu, hotspotting, […]

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