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Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Monday, January 19, 2015

All In All, It's Just Another Plant In the Wall


Some of the things I wonder about green walls is how they will hold up over time, the degree of maintenance they require, and, in the case of really large expanses of vertical gardens, how that maintenance is accomplished.  In the case of  Tacoma's 800 square foot green wall designed by Patrick Blanc, pruning is done only twice a year from a cherry picker.  You can see Loree's April 2013 post about the wall here. The wall was installed in September of 2009.  Let's see what it looks like in January of 2015.




It's amazing to think that all of these plants are growing in felt, no soil at all.

In Val Easton's article about the newly-installed garden, she mentioned hellebores of which I noticed none. Perhaps they weren't  happy with urban high rise living.    

In the Seattle Times photo there was no roof, short wall in front or columns slicing the wall into thirds. I wonder why those were added? 



So, urban plants growing in felt with irrigation and liquid fertilizer.  Certainly not what one might consider sustainable gardening but surely an interesting installation 

Moss has covered a lot of the blank spaces and looks very nice.   I wish my garden looked this good right now!

Can't believe it's taken me this long to visit this green wall but I'll surely go back in the summer to see how it changes!


One of the lovely things about this vertical garden is it's visibility from the street and that the building's parking lot is adjacent so it's quite accessible.






Had to chuckle at this message over the doorway next to the vertical garden.  Is this a message to the gardener?



32 comments:

  1. I still have some reservations with regards to living walls but those well maintained ones, well...they do at least look good. Funny enough in our walks at the town centre where we live we spotted a living wall for the first time and we reckon it's been there for years! How it evaded our attention reflects on how we have yet to explore the area where we live in detail. It was in a poor state but then again the building is currently undergoing renovation.

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    1. If I think of them as art installations utilizing plants it helps. Sort of like show gardens that have a certain life span. Although this one has been up for a number of years and with care, it looks good. Around the rest of the building are shrubs and a few large grasses which have all been highly manicured into gumdrops. They clearly have a maintenance company working for them.

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  2. Well I think it's looking pretty good, the moss certainly does help to knit it all together and make parts that might look empty, or dead, green and alive.

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    1. It's not so bad for this time of year. Hydroponic gardening has never been my thing. Interesting to view though.

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  3. Very interesting, and lots of lovely texture to enjoy.
    I guess it needs specialised maintenance at regular intervals, and would quickly lose its good looks if left to its own devices.

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    1. Without constant irrigation and fertilizer, it would quickly die. It is an interesting green quilt.

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  4. I have various items that I've thought about repurposing into some kind of vertical gardening feature over the years, but I never seem to get around to actually doing it, probably because I have all the same reservations as you about it. I don't want to do a lot of work only to have it look like crap in a few months. I'm just not sure plants were meant to grow that way. It probably doesn't require any more maintenance than a horizontal garden (watering, weeding, replanting the dead spots). This one that you've featured does look quite nice, that moss helps a lot.

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    1. Mosses, ferns, and a variety of plants grow on rocky cliffs so it's possible. My idea of vertical gardening is growing vines up a trellis.

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  5. Not your average DIY installation, but an excellent lesson in finding what 'works' in a particular spot. It looks as if the ferns were replaced by grasses among other changes.

    Do you suppose the little roof is to keep rainwater from washing the fertilizer away and the columns help support the little roof? The columns give it a tryptich look, for whatever reason.

    I wonder what the brick behind looks like now?

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    1. I'm sure that's the purpose of the roof and columns. Good question about the brick. There must be some sort of barrier between the garden and the wall.

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  6. I'm excited you'll be showing this wall at different seasons throughout the year. It definitely looks pretty good mid January, better then some parts of my garden. I would think the most essential element is a drip irrigation system. On a timer.

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    1. There is a drip irrigation system and excess water drips out the bottom of the wall. It's like a big felt sponge.

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  7. Very interesting - it is actually looking much better now. We visited in June 2010 and there were big gaps in the plantings. I suspect that some areas did not do well over the winter and they had just replanted. I don't remember any helebores either. Lots of Heucheria. No roof either. I really like the Mexican feather grass and the other grasses and sharp green plants. Those are new and adds a lot of interesting contrast. It is looking really good now - it will be a great winter garden to visit.

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    1. Oh yes, Marta do come and see the changes!

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  8. I wondered how those massive vertical walls would hold up over time. Not too bad but not what I've seen in the publicity photos. The only vertical walls of any size I've seen here are, of course, constructed of succulents.

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    1. It looks grand from a distance & it'll be interesting to see what spring and summer bring. I love succulent green walls and have even had a tiny one of my own but it was only a temporary thing until the plants complained and got planted in pots.

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  9. Quite impressive, although I too wonder about practicality and sustainability. Not that my garden is completely either...

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    1. Of course our gardens aren't perfectly care free but this green wall requires a lot of irrigation and fertilizer. It would be impossible to shovel compost, manure, etc. onto a vertical garden.

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  10. Wow, that's an impressive and attractive vertical garden. I don't always like these all that much, but this one is beautiful!

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  11. It looks pretty good...and it is great that the moss is covering the empty spaces. I wish green walls were easier to take care of.

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    1. It would be nice if green walls were easier to maintain!

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  12. We don't need no cultivation! We don't need no bug control! No. seriously, that's very cool.

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    1. Hey gard'ner leave those plants alone! It is cool.

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  13. I had similar questions about green walls. I was very interested to read your report on this one and how it has been sustained. I'm sure the roof is to help with rain erosion.There is alot more to this wall than succulents, as I see in most green walls. Very impressive!

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    1. I bet you're correct about the roof purpose. We're lucky to have this one so close !

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  14. Uh-maze-ing!! I wish they had walls like this here. These would be incredible as sound walls next to highways. Love love love!!

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    1. So, I'm hearing you say that you're fond of it? Just give Mr. Blanc a call. I'm sure he'd be happy to install one for you!

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  15. I can see doing this if space were limited (not my problem). In reading comments it would seem that this particular wall has gone through some trial and error before getting it just right. Sounds a lot like every garden. I'm all for beautifying public spaces with plantings. This one is quite handsome.

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  16. It's lovely. I never see these outdoors in Austin, although there's a planted wall indoors in the flagship Whole Foods downtown. Maybe it would just dry out too quickly in our climate.

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  17. Ha! That message does seem appropriate. It's fascinating to see which plants thrive and which struggle in that type of environment. I was reading an article about the plants they included, and your pictures show that the sedges, heucheras, and mosses (among others) seem to be doing quite well. It's a fun experiment, anyway, and a pretty facade for an urban landscape. Thanks for sharing the photos and the information!

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  18. That is one successful vertical garden.

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Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I love to hear your thoughts.