Green up your walls with vertical planting

Green wall

Green wall - Credit: Archant

Traditionally greening up a wall meant using wires or trellis to provide a framework for climbing plants but over the past few years a new technique has taken hold; the vertical green wall.

A green wall in London

A green wall in London - Credit: Archant

This is where perennials and shrubs are planted in ‘pockets’ in what could be described as a vertical ‘hanging basket’ to create a living wall hanging. By not using climbing plants that naturally want to climb and ramble in a very freeform manner, a much more defined and designed scheme can be created. With careful selection of plants a green wall is something that will look good all through the year.

Vertical green walls are being used in many different situations, both residential and commercial nowadays. In commercial applications they can be used to provide huge green backdrops to retail areas, such as the wall at the Westfield shopping centre in west London, hotels or even the much visited Olympic site.

On a smaller residential scale the walls work equally well and can be a breath of life to a town garden where space is at a premium.

Basement light-wells can be transformed from dark dingy voids to bright green living spaces. The walls can also be used internally (with a palette of houseplants) which can then be extended outside with exterior plants. This works very well with modern glass extensions or large bi-fold doors.

A floral green wall

A floral green wall - Credit: Archant

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Shade tolerant walls often provide the best coverage and texture: epimedium, ajuga, bergenia, tiarella, ferns and hosta are a good mix to start with in a green wall. They are predominantly green in colour but with wildly different shades and create a tonal scheme very pleasing all on its own.

If colour is your thing then heuchera, viola and cyclamen can be added to the basic scheme for patches of impact, be it in the form of leaves or flowers. If maintenance is not an issue then the wild and bold colours of begonia rex varieties can be added seasonally for a really punchy colour scheme.

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All plants require water and green walls are no exception. As a designer I will always specify the plants I require as well as the layout of the wall but this scheme is then passed over to a specialist to grow on, install, irrigate and maintain.

A green wall is truly a thing of beauty and can extend the season of interest in a small town garden right the way through the year as well as into the hours of darkness when the walls can be lit or designed to be combined with moving water to create a beautiful space in what might have been a very difficult space.

Kate Gould is an award winning garden designer with more than a decade’s hands-on experience transforming gardens of all sizes and a regular exhibitor at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show where she has been awarded three Gold medals.

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