Climb­ing the walls

Monthly Chronicle - - Home & Living - JA­SON COR­NISH, HORTICULTURALIST

An in­no­va­tive way to in­cor­po­rate a gar­den into a va­ri­ety of spa­ces in­clud­ing of­fices, houses with lit­tle out­door space or apart­ment bal­conies, is through the in­stal­la­tion of a lush, green ver­ti­cal gar­den.

They can be tai­lored to suit a va­ri­ety of pur­poses from pro­duc­ing food to di­vid­ing a space to soft­en­ing, hid­ing an unattrac­tive wall or fea­ture or in lieu of a fence.

Con­struct­ing your ver­ti­cal gar­den

Con­struc­tion tech­niques can be as sim­ple as do it your­self ver­sions with hang­ing pots to a free­stand­ing frame or as com­pli­cated as a pro­fes­sion­ally de­signed and in­stalled hy­dro­ponic sys­tem mounted to the side of a multi-storey build­ing.

For lo­cal do­mes­tic use, plas­tic boxes stacked on top of each other or felt mats with pock­ets sewed into them are the main styles. The cheaper op­tions have alu­minium or plas­tic frames that you can sim­ply in­stall and re­move pots as you want, which means you can shuf­fle the con­tain­ers around. The more per­ma­nent op­tion of plant­ing di­rectly into the soil means that when­ever you change a plant or one dies, you’ll have a hole in the plant­ing

Main­te­nance

The sim­pler ver­ti­cal gar­dens can be quite low main­te­nance, need­ing only wa­ter, light and fer­tiliser. The amount of light avail­able to the space will de­ter­mine which species of plants to use.

Ide­ally all green walls should have some sort of drip ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem in­stalled to al­low for the slow ap­pli­ca­tion of mois­ture to pen­e­trate the grow­ing medium. But if you’re not near a wa­ter­ing sys­tem, a wa­ter­ing can for smaller gar­dens will suf­fice.

What you can grow

As many walls are in shady po­si­tions like un­der eaves, you need to think about plant­ing mostly shade tol­er­ant plants like ferns. In terms of pro­duce, you can grow any clump­ing herbs like thyme, basil, pars­ley and ve­g­ies - beans, cu­cum­bers and some smaller toma­toes do well.

In part shade you can grow let­tuces, rocket, sil­ver­beet, radishes, dwarf cab­bage, chives, basil and pars­ley. Full sun is a dif­fer­ent story as plants dry out quickly so you need to con­sider drought tol­er­ant plants, prob­a­bly not ed­i­ble ones.

You’ll need to pro­tect your plants from pos­sums, birds and wal­la­bies with mesh or sim­i­lar phys­i­cal bar­ri­ers if your gar­den is near bush or wildlife.

How much does it cost?

A very ba­sic home op­tion costs around $200 in ma­te­ri­als, and goes up in price sig­nif­i­cantly when con­sid­er­ing dif­fer­ent mod­els and the size of the wall you’re try­ing to cover.

Ver­ti­cal gar­dens are par­tic­u­larly well-suited to apart­ment liv­ing or cor­po­rate workspaces, re­quir­ing lit­tle space, adding to the mod­ern aes­thet­ics of any area and pro­vid­ing much-needed calm­ing green vibes. Plants that would be aes­thet­i­cally suited to this set­ting may in­clude suc­cu­lents or cacti for sunny lo­ca­tions or ferns for more shady po­si­tions.

Ja­son Cor­nish is a qual­i­fied horticulturalist and li­censed struc­tural land­scaper who op­er­ates Gar­den Es­tate Land­scap­ing on the North Shore. wwww.gar­den­es­tate­land­scap­ing.com.au

Syd­ney’s ver­ti­cal gar­dens to check out for in­spi­ra­tion Mater Hos­pi­tal, Crows Nest Cen­tral Park, Broad­way The Four Sea­sons Ho­tel, The Rocks The Lon­don Ho­tel, Paddington

How to make gar­den­ing’s lat­est trend hap­pen at your place

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