Photo: Patrick Blanc - Vertical Garden, Quai Branly Museum, Paris
Plato said that "necessity is the mother of invention" and vertical gardens confirm this adage.
There's a problem with the urban sprawl dominated by concrete, steel and glass sky-scrapers, with the lack of space, especially that of green areas. An interesting solution which reminds us of the Hanging Gardens of Semiramis would be the Vertical Gardens or "Mur Vegetal" (term used in France).
One of the most important promoters of vertical gardens is the French botanist Patrick Blanc. His accomplishments are true ecological works of art, decorating the facades and halls of numerous museums, hotels, commercial buildings or offices in Paris, Madrid, Istanbul, Qatar, Kuala Lumpur and other cities in the world.
After decades of research at the National Centre of Scientific Research in Paris combined with his research travels on the Thai tropical islands, Blanc concluded that for many plants, the soil is nothing more and nothing less than mechanical support. Essential for the growth of the plants are the water, the minerals diluted in water, the light and the carbon dioxide necessary for photosynthesis.
Photo: Patrick Blanc - Vertical garden, Sainte-Genevieve des Bois, Paris
The vertical gardens designed by Patrick Blanc have a vertical metal, PVC and felt structure as a support. Felt is highly resistant to corrosion and it allows the proper and equable water distribution. The plants develop their roots on this felt.
Irrigation and fertilization are done automatically from the upper part, just as it would happen with rainfall in a natural environment.
Photo: Patrick Blanc - Vertical garden, Hotel Departement Hauts de Seine, Paris
The vertical gardens are capable of creating their own microclimate by maintaining the dampness high and by allowing the germination of seeds and growth of ferns and moss.
Choosing the right plants is the most important aspect of a successful project. Blanc recommends a few species such as araceae, begonia and ludisia, but also flowers appreciated for their perfume and bright colours, such as the Campanula portenschlagiana (Dalmatian bellflower).
Photo: Patrick Blanc - Vertical Garden with Campanula portenschlagiana in flower, Quai Branly Museum, Paris
Photo: Patrick Blanc - Vertical Garden, National Theater, Taipei
Photo: Janet Palk
Photo: Janet Palk - Vertical garden in bathroom
Photo: JKT - Vertical Garden
Photo: Matarozzi Pelsinger Builders - Vertical Garden
Photo: Donna Lynn - Vertical Garden on a wood fence
Photo: Patrick Blanc - Vertical Garden, Omote Sando Gyre, Tokyo
With some research, work, and imagination, each and every one of us can decorate their house or garden with such green walls.
The best example was given by Patrick Blanc. Here's how his study room from his home in Paris looks like.
Patrick Blanc Home office
Ivy or other climbing plants create the oldest and simplest shapes of vertical gardens, some even naturally.
Photo: Zanon Architetti Associati
Some plants could be aggressive and invasive; others could be toxic for the kids or pets. Ask about these plants before buying in order to avoid unnecessary inconveniences!