Remember when you were in school? Maybe they were the best or …well, most “tricky” years of your childhood. Even if recess and lunch were your best subjects, you may recall the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. How could you forget that gift of terraced greenery King Nebuchadnezzar built for his wife? Even if what we learned in school may actually turn out to be wrong (the vertical gardens might have been built by the Assyrians and NOT the Babylonian king), you can create your own horticultural wonder that just might astound historians of the future. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were the first documented vertical gardens- those terraced walls of splendid greenery impressed Strabo so why not trigger the same wonderment on your own palace grounds? Don’t forget to carve your name in rock and add a few meaningful symbols - archeologists love to put stories to those doodles!
Your vertical wonder — posterity is waiting
In order to impress your neighbors with your ancient historical knowledge, you must first construct your hanging garden, which is much easier to do today than it was in 700 BCE. We now have plastic and steel and even felt made from recycled plastic bottles to use for vertical garden systems that we can buy ‘off the shelf’.
Living Architecture: the impact that a wall of flowers, herbs and foliage adds to your property is stunning. If you have a small space, you increase your growing area incrementally along with amazing visual drama. Even in larger gardens this vertical growing area breaks up the horizontal norm and affords the landscaper a way of adding instant height to a design (previously difficult when a client is impatient to see things grow tall quickly!) This combination doubles and triples the space available for ornamental plants as well as for food producers.
Use a Vertical Garden as a plant nursery: if you are pressed for space or want to keep your seedlings in a compact area, try using a greenwall. You can place the sun lovers on the top and crops like lettuce or peas under the “eaves” of the older plants and the sunbathers. Use the greenwall as a growing system, reserving sections for transplants and microgreens. Large root zones conserve water and limit the watering chore. Create a dual-purpose (or triple) production space by planting herbs, ornamentals and “crop” species such as peas or peppers. Let strawberries and tumbling tomatoes trail down around the mini-roses and lavender.
Ease of Use: for those with physical limitations or who have difficulty bending, traditional horizontal plots can be challenging to work. Transferring those plants to the greenwall allows ease of access from initial planting (and daily maintenance) to harvesting. Children love the novelty of vertical gardening. Consider erecting a small greenwall just for the children to grow their own plants in.
Privacy: if you don’t want nosy neighbors (like Strabo) monitoring your business, a vertical garden is a screen of beauty. The vertical growing space is more lush than a fence and it offers you the added benefits of providing a garden. Use the greenwall to hide unpleasant necessities like the compost bin or the pool filter.
Event and holiday tips: Get “festive” by stringing lights and inserting baubles or decorations for a birthday party or special dinner. Adding lighting to vertical displays is particularly stunning. Try battery-operated tea lights. Use seasonally appropriate decorations for holidays, even Easter eggs can be hidden in there!
Show off your special collection of plants: Grow unique species in your greenwall or reserve the vertical garden for mono-culture, micro-climate or regional species. You could have a succulents exhibit and invite your local gardening club to a ‘show and tell’ coffee morning.
Confound your Pets: If your pets enjoy vandalizing your ornamentals or destroying your carefully nurtured produce, raise the plants into a vertical garden. Your neighbour’s cat will have difficulty watering your marjoram when you plant the herb 3 feet in the air. Victory is summer sweet…or sweet myrtle or…
Hmmm, I wonder what Nebuchadnezzar used for aphids and scale?