Composed by Scott Christie
Vertical gardens are a recent trend in landscape architecture: they introduce greenery into unexpected places. They bring together living ecologies and unforgiving urban settings, enable phytoremediation, and provide living space for beneficial insects and microorganisms. They also generate social interactions and discussion between people, by implicitly bringing nature into the line of sight of all passersby. People often want to know if the plants are actually alive, since the vertical arrangement of vegetation is so uncharacteristic of typical growing conditions.
To achieve this vertical layout, modular, recycled plastic panels with pre-molded pockets for plants are assembled into the final shape and size of the piece. The panels have provisions for irrigation built into their structure, so providing water to the plants becomes a less complicated exercise; water is piped in at the top and allowed to flow down through the soil via gravity, and excess run out can be collected and recirculated.
For a recent project we were working on in East Hampton NY, a tight corner of the house near a new outdoor kitchen we designed presented a challenge to introduce planted elements in a way that would not interfere with functional movement through the confined space. This small green panel was the solution.
Conceptually, we wanted this to read as a mosaic-like Paul Klee painting hung on the exterior wall of the house. Utilizing one plant throughout the panel gives the piece the desired textural uniformity. We chose Coral Bells (Heuchera sp.) for their interesting foliage and hardiness. However, by using six different cultivars of the plant, we introduced subtle variations in foliage color and shading. The end result is a subtle transition from top left to bottom right, allowing intermingling of the different colors within each field.
We owe Bromm’s Lullaby Farm thanks for contract growing the material and then installing the finished product on Long Island.