Thursday, June 14, 2012

Creating The Demonstration Edible Garden Green Wall

Submitted by Megan Bucknum and Michele Sokoloff

How do you change an unassuming chain link fence into a marvel that supports plant life?  It’s not difficult .  .  . Make a Green Wall, a Vertical Wall, a Hanging Wall.

The Philadelphia Master Gardeners who tend and nurture the education-focussed edible garden at the Horticulture Center in Fairmount Park wanted to demonstrate one type of Green Wall. The plan was to construct this wall to use viable, unused space and be the home to culinary herbs. One of the Master Gardeners, Alyssa Van Alstine, asked her mother, Kathy Lose, if she would sew the material to create this vertical garden. Kathy, a professional seamstress, enthusiastically agreed.

Our green wall, or vertical garden, is constructed out of fleece fabric that was sewn using double layers to insure stability and strength. A plastic mesh was sewn on the inside of the fleece to contain the soil. The size is 6 feet by 4 feet. There are two rows of deep pockets across the fabric with four 14-inch high pockets from side to side. Grommets were placed every few inches along the top and sides to secure the structure to the fence using long plastic ties.
Each pocket is filled with 5 inches of perlite, a mix of worm castings and good potting soil. And then the herbs!

The Vertical Wall serves as a functional way to expand the “arable space” of the garden, while simultaneously hiding the chain link fence.  The gardeners also planted other vegetables below and around the wall making the total area serve more purpose than just a boundary.  Currently parsley, basil, dill, cilantro, thyme, oregano, marjoram, fennel, curry, and scented geranium are planted in the Green Wall. We installed an irrigation drip system which uses gravity to help water each pocket. This reduces the reliance of the gardeners to keep everything alive and well.
For an excellent list of possible herbs and their uses,
History of Green Walls
Although this Green Wall is a new addition to the Philadelphia Demonstration Edible Garden, it is not a new concept.  In fact, the first living roofs and walls originated in ancient times. The famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon were one of the first recorded examples of such structures.
Now Green Walls (also called  vertical gardens, hanging gardens or living walls) can be found throughout the world in both small and large installations.  To get a glimpse of some impressive large installations, visit  Patrick Blanc’s website, who is one of the most famous vertical wall designers in the world.  For a closer-to-home look, visit Drexel University’s Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building -- on Chestnut and 33rd in West Philly -- which has a beautiful 80 ft. tall wall with over 1,500 plants. Drexel University

You can create your own green wall in your own personal space by sewing, constructing, or purchasing one of the following products:
Woolly Pockets are fabric vertical hangers that can be placed on an outdoor, or indoor, wall and then planted.  

Lastly, Bright Green is a company that sells vertical planting systems that are divided into “cells” that hold different plants.  Visit their website for more information.

For a succulent vertical wall, visit the Succulent Gardens website to see their handmade wooden frames that hold a variety of succulents.  They even sell the succulents online and will ship them.  City Planter in Northern Liberties, Philadelphia has some succulents and is a  place to visit for inspiration. 


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