Green Walls Bring Peace to Airport Madness: Real Dirt

What’s the most stressful location in the GTA?

At this time of year, it’s a no-brainer: Pearson airport.

With thousands of families heading off on March Break, the place turns into my idea of hell. Long, slow-moving lines at check-in desks . . . grumpy security and immigration staff . . . fretting parents . . . badly behaved kids screaming around . . .

Is there a solution to this madness? Not really. In our overcrowded world, air travel at peak times inevitably becomes a grit-your-teeth-and-get-it-over exercise. Either that, or just stay home. However, for those who must fly, it’s surely time that the pooh-bahs at Pearson considered adding a design feature to our overcrowded airport that has been proven to help stressed-out travellers calm down and relax.

I’m talking about green walls. Other airports around the world are already embracing this idea with gusto. Why not us?

The busiest transit hub in the world, Heathrow Airport in London, England, is the latest to recognize the mental-health benefits of installing live, growing greenery around people who are crammed together in anxiety-inducing situations.

Last fall, they announced — with great fanfare — the introduction of a “Garden Gate” consisting of seven panels at Gate 25, Terminal 3 (not, unfortunately, where Air Canada leaves from). Passengers waiting for flights there can calm their frayed nerves by contemplating “ . . . a garden of 1,680 plants, including English native ivy and peace lilies.”

Mmm. Sounds positively Zen-like to me — and more green gates are coming to Heathrow. Yet other airports, most notably in Asia, are already way ahead of the Brits in the greenery-as-pacifier game. Changi Airport in Singapore, for instance, boasts a tropical butterfly garden, a cacti garden, a whole bed of sunflowers and even a water lily pond.

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