by Amber

Vertical Garden: Big Ideas Sprouting Everywhere

The vertical garden is a hot topic lately. Not in the urban windowsill, but on the outside of the glass. The big idea of wrapping the exterior of city buildings in greenery is leaping off of drawing boards and into reality around the world in recent weeks. The benefits of this once highly-futuristic scheme have increased too.

Vertical Gardens to Prevent Flooding

The River Thames winds through London, with heavy development lining it’s banks. The city’s largest vertical garden design shown above sets it’s sight on stopping flooding in one particularly prone spot in the city. Ingenious. Instead of incredible runoff water produced by the towering walls feature 16 tons of soil to absorb it. The 68-foot living walls will take some pressure off of the flooding issues in central London with their 10,000 liter holding capacity.

The vertical gardens have seasonal interest too with 20,000 plants from 20 species now occupying one end of The Ruebens at The Palace hotel near Victoria Station. There are many living walls in the city of London, but none of them are near this large. However, London was just outdone.

Huge New Vertical Garden in Paris

It may seem like a contest to see what big city can come up with the largest living wall, because the news is suddenly featuring them popping up everywhere. At just over 82-feet, the vertical garden designed for this week’s Paris Design Festival definitely trumps London’s, but it was planned in advance, and grown-out for 7 weeks in preparation of the big event. The sheer amount of diversity used by Patrick Blanc is pretty amazing. There are 239 species planted in this ‘Oasis of Aboukir,’ as the botonist calls it. The walls are now home to 7600 plants arranged in a modern leaf pattern.

The garden also grew at an amazing rate. Just look at how lush it is after only 7 weeks. This isn’t Blanc’s first adventure in designing a vertical garden, he has been doing them for 30 years according to news sources. Did we have vertical gardens three decades ago? As you can see in the early stages of growth image below, there doesn’t seem to be any soil involved in the structure, but there is. It’s just very nicely camouflaged.  By the way, if you’re in Paris, you’ll find this building in the triangle where Montorgueil, Reaumur Sebastopol and Grands Boulevards all intersect.

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Sydney Soon to Trump Them All

Vertical Gardens at One Central Park, SydneyThe world’s hugest vertical garden is in the works down under. It’s also designed by Patrick Blanc, and will tower over the area in Sydney, as well as all other vertical gardens in existence today. Blanc works fast, but construction on the building must come first. Over 211 feet of vertical gardens will cover about half of the new residential towers at One Central Park in downtown Sydney. The two towers will feature even greater plant diversity, with 190 native Australian plant species and 160 non-natives.

In the courtyard on the ground formed to the rear of the complex a 6400 square meter park is planned. Here sunlight is a problem for plantings near the walls. The surrounding tall buildings will block a great deal of natural light. So, how do sun loving plants deal with the shade? Easy. Mirrors. Just a matter of bending the sunshine to arrive where you need it. Not only will it be the greenest complex on the block, but it sounds like the place will fairly glow. You won’t be waiting long to see it, they’ve set the completion of the 624 unit project for January 2014.

Images: The Ruebens, London courtesy of L.A. Times. One Central Park and Oasis pics courtesy of Patrick Blanc.

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The garden played a starring role from spring through fall in the house Amber was raised in. She has decades of experience growing plants from seeds and cuttings in the plot and pots.