Living Walls: A Resilient Trend

Sourced from The Ecologist

At this summer’s Chelsea Flower Show, Tony Woods, Director of Garden Club London, incorporated a Royal Horticultural Society trend into his award-winning Urban Flow Garden for Thames Water: a living wall, or vertical garden.

Woods created an edible living wall, inspiring gardeners to grow food in a small space while monitoring their water usage.

Woods said: “For edible walls, our system uses individual units that clip in and out of the main framework; you can replace plants and experiment with a range of evergreen and annual edibles.”

Vertical gardening 

Since Chelsea ended, many countries including the UK and the USA have faced prolonged heatwaves and drought conditions, creating added pressure for gardeners to restrict water usage whilst keeping plants healthy.

Living walls tend to require less water than similar ground-based displays, and the option of built-in hydroponic watering systems mean that potential hosepipe bans pose no threat. Whilst the living wall trend has flourished for several years for businesses and individuals, the Royal Horticultural Society’s approval and the persistent heatwave increase its appeal.

In contrast, Woods said: “Ground level planters are often specified by designers and architects with no form of watering, using crazy materials like stainless steel, which speeds the drought in tough conditions.” 

In her book, Grow a Living Wall, Chicago-based organic garden designer, author and social media influencer Shawna Coronado proves how accessible vertical gardening can be, whatever your space. Many of the living walls she creates are freestanding – the simplest are based on “layers of window boxes to hold 35-40 plants” - and affordable. 

Coronado recommends her own organic soil recipe to maximise efficiency: “One-third organic soil, one-third rotted manure, and one-third leaf mould or kitchen compost, and a scoopful of organic fertiliser when planting. This means watering twice a week, or every three days, not every day.”

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