Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A New Trend – Vertical Gardening

Let me rephrase that; a trend re-visited. In England it is quite common to see stone and brick walls smothered with climbing roses, Virginia creeper and clematis. Posts, archways and trellises support winter jasmine and honeysuckle while hanging baskets and wall troughs are the norm. Anything is fair game! The typical English garden is modest in size and as a country of keen gardeners, when horizontal space is limited the only way to go is UP!

An incredible perennial living wall designed by VertiGarden.
At the Northwest Flower & Garden Show this year I saw several ways in which vertical gardening has been taken to a new level; the creation of living walls. Perhaps my favorite was a tapestry of low growing plants including ‘hens and chicks’ (known as ‘houseleeks in the UK) and other succulents.

A living picture
Design by Ravenna Gardens

Ravenna Gardens deservedly won the award for ‘Best Plant Material’ with their artistic display. Soft shades of teal and lavender set the tone and perfectly complemented the weathered grey frame. Congratulations!

A tropical display using Woolly Pocket

Several companies now make hanging ‘pockets’ into which can be planted an assortment of both edible and ornamental plants. They are typically made of a breathable fabric which allows air to circulate and water to percolate.  A great idea for a balcony where floor space is at a premium as they can be hung on a wall or attached to a railing. Woolly Pocket is one of the leaders in this innovative system.

I love the rustic feel of this design. It would be perfect to
dress up a garden shed or studio.
Design by Cultivar LLC

Cultivar LLC won ‘Best Design’ at the container show with their weathered wooden wall planters filled with ‘Jet Fire’ dwarf daffodils and delicate ferns. A series of parallel boxes extending up the height of the wall took up little space yet added color and life to an otherwise uninspiring structure. 

An exciting new book ‘Garden Up’ by Susan Morrison and Rebecca Sweet has just hit the bookstores and contains dozens of vertical gardening ideas from gutter gardens suspended from rafters to strategies for providing screening from neighbors, utility poles and A/C units. It also has step by step instructions on how to build the living walls described above as well as resources for purchasing frames and other materials. Well written, beautifully photographed and full of practical design tips for every gardener.

Buy it now!

A true gardener always finds room for a few more plants!


  1. Karen - thank you so much for your kind comments regarding our book! And I particularly LOVE your first sentence "…a trend re-visited". Oh so true! Your words, coupled with the fantastic living wall gardens we saw at the NWFGS are inspiring to say the least! Here's to more gardening up!

  2. You're welcome Rebecca - you both deserve to do well with this book. I love the way it offers ideas for gardeners no matter how small or large their space. I am often asked for ideas on how to accessorize a patio or balcony and these living pictures are a perfect way to personalize an outdoor room. Thank you for including sources for the materials both in the UK and USA; I wouldn't have know where to start!
    The 'gutter gardens' of lettuce are a fun, edible way to provide some filtered screening from neighbors too!


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