Greening our cities with vertical gardening

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An example of a green building.

Earlier this week we touched on what is for me a fascinating gardening topic. One that has the potential to bring back greenery to cities in a big way. Indeed many would say the idea is the future for city design; one that has many benefits beyond making our city skyscapers just looking better.

So what is this revolutionary concept?

It’s the planting of flowers, vines etc through vertical gardens or green walls.

The effort involves re-introducing gardens and green space to cityscapes where a place for a beautiful, refreshing and uplifting garden is limited. Instead of a garden being planted on the ground in the traditional way and developed horizontally, designers and architects are encouraging living gardens to be planted on the side of walls or even sky scrapers.

Imagine cities of the future readers, not so much a concrete jungle but a rainforest! Indeed the city of Sydney is one of the world’s leaders in this emerging vertical green technology design with one construction growing plants at a height of 113 metres.

The concept is nothing new according to the ABC National’s Offtrack superb broadcast of 22nd March. As the host Ann Jones discusses, think of the legendary Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

But how do they work?

Any vertical plants from a humble passionfruit espaliered up a wall to entire skyscrapers covered in verdant greenery can be classified as vertical gardening. The methods employed vary from the simple placing of earth on ledges to more complex arrangements to obtain the full greening look. This includes using felt pockets for the plants to grow into and fall over the sides over the building.

For cityscapes the upkeep of vertical gardening is of course a major job with teams of gardeners employed to keep the vertical gardens well tended. The effect is the same as pockets of greenery in the urban jungle of the city like Sydney’s Botanical Gardens or Perth’s Kings Park.

While living or green walls are nothing new, the difference now is that they are being incorporated into architects’ designs for city buildings. This includes designing space for felt pockets in which the greenery can be planted.

According to Junglefy high rise gardener Andrew Wands, green designers look for plants with firm stems; are wind and pest resistant and have similar water requirements.

The increasing number of experts who support greening cityscapes claim it helps:

  • Reduce the buildings’ carbon footprint by helping to insulate the structure.
  • Increase the city’s biodiversity by re-introducing plant and insect species.
  • Purify and cool the air for city office workers and people who live in the city.
  • Promote better mental wellbeing by giving more people access to nature.

With Australia at the centre of this world wide trend towards greening our cities through living walls and buildings, how long before respected nurseries such as Evergreen Growers begin to offer tubestock plants specially grown for vertical gardens?

Do you agree with the trend towards greening our cities through living walls and buildings? Does the concept have the potential to change our traditional “concrete and glass” view of big cities into a more diverse and pleasant bioscape? We’d love to hear your thoughts either here or over at our Facebook Page.

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