Ever since May when we explored the idea of creative ways to garden in small spaces, we here at aHa! Modern Living have felt greatly inspired by the concept of vertical gardening. The act of gardening up, instead of out, insures that everyone has room to grow, despite his or her lack of square footage. To try our own hand at gardening vertically, we are currently working on two exciting new projects: a vine trellis and a gutter garden. We can’t wait to see how these turn out!
Did you know that when it comes to vertical gardening, you can think just about as grand or as small as you would like? Take the image above, for example. This is a photo of a green vertical garden on one of the exterior walls at the CaixaForum, a museum in Madrid. It consists of 15,000 plants from more than 250 different species. And here they are, all growing and thriving together on the same wall. Did you know that so many different types of plants are capable of growing vertically? Amazing! Plus, we love the contrast between the old, rustic brown building with its rusted iron top and the lush, verdant foliage. It creates such an unexpected encounter between hard and soft, rough and natural.
Patrick Blanc, the creator of the wall, and a resident scientist at the prestigious Centre National pour la Recherche Scientifique, has stated that vertical gardens can be grown anywhere, even in “those difficult spaces where you don’t expect to see greenery.” His success has come from studying the way that rainforests naturally grow and thrive. We find his work inspirational.
Madrid is certainly not the only major city with a vertical garden. The Musee du Quai Branly in Paris has another gorgeous wall that was designed by Patrick Blanc. The beautiful green wall at the Vancouver Aquarium (left) was inspired by those who wanted to prove that city buildings and ecology can coexist. Oulou Bar & EcoLounge in Williamsburg features a living wall that is totally designer chic and eco-friendly. The Sky Farm in Toronto is an excellent example of how vertical gardening can be not just pretty and practical, but profitable, too. The 58 story building will have 8 million square feet of growing space, and could grow enough food to feed 35,000 people every day.
Benefits of Living Walls
The benefits of these urban vertical gardens go beyond just the obvious. Yes, they are visually stunning, and the effect of wild, blooming exuberance confined to geometric boundaries is awesome.
- It is a unique way to protect and insulate building faces.
- The walls require little maintenance, as they are watered by drip irrigation systems.
- Vertical gardens require 5% of the normal water requirements of field crops.
- The plants improve the air quality of the city around them by releasing oxygen.
- Living walls significantly cool the building, and therefore lower energy consumption.
- Little to no soil is required, so cost is kept to a minimum.
- The plants create a noise buffer, helping to shield city buildings from the noise of the busy streets around them.
- When growing food, vertical gardening is easily scalable from small to very large production, and the gardens can be built on non arable lands, close to major city markets.
Feeling inspired? We knew you would catch our vertical gardening bug! Check out our tips for growing food in small spaces in this April blog, where you’ll find our tips for starting your own gutter garden. Or, check out this article from Gardening Tip ‘n Ideas on how to apply Patrick Blanc’s patented vertical gardening technology in your own home.