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What is vertical gardening?
Vertical gardening simply means exploiting the potential of the vertical plane to grow plants, (something trees do naturally) instead of just the horizontal plane, which is the traditionally ground of the garden. Think of the mythical Hanging Gardens of Babylon, verdant & graced with luscious vines, and cascading foliage, espaliered fruit trees. In practice, vertical gardening involves using fences, walls, pergolas, arches & trellises to support climbing & hanging plants. Not only are vertical garden elements attractive, they bring plants parts within easy reach. Vertical structures (stakes, trellises) can be easily inserted into ground level & raised garden beds, as well as planter boxes, containers & window boxes. Hanging baskets can be suspended from pergolas and house eaves at desirable heights. A pulley system can be devised to raise & lower baskets as needed. The plants for vertical greening of your garden can be natural climbers (e.g. Pandorea), or those amenable to be trained to a trellis (e.g. Sweet Peas), or stakes (e.g. Tomatoes). Some plants are suitable for being espaliered against a wall or trellis (e.g. Camellias, Fruit trees). Plants with a trailing growth habit (e.g. Convolvulus) can be planted along the edges of raised beds or planter boxes & allowed to cascade to the ground giving a wall of living colour. While a main advantage of vertical gardens is that plants (their fruit, flowers, scent and foliage) are brought within reach, they have many other benefits. Vertical garden elements can: • disguise & screen unpleasant structures or views • define garden areas • soften stark surfaces • provide shade • allow vertical circulation of air, ideal for plant growth • all the while taking up little horizontal space, important when space is a premium.
Cultivate Fact Sheet 3: Vertical Gardening Aileen Westbrook © 25 February 2007 Page 1 of 6
Factors to consider with vertical garden structures • What is the final desired height of climbing and hanging plants. timber stakes ) are tied together about ¼ the way from the top with string. A-frames are essentially two trellises joined at the top. tape or wire. • • • • Further examples of vertical garden structures • Pergola – this is an overhead structure. a raised bed. to support climbing plants. plastic. shaded by the pergola’s climbers. Trellis – is a latticework frame or structure. while Akebia quinata is a light climber which needs only a light-weight arch for support. Single short timber supports or stakes can be used for tomatoes to grow up. Teepee – three or more long narrow poles (bamboo. A trellis can be part of a fence. A table & seats placed under the pergola. In what garden structure will the plant be rooted? e. & how high can you comfortably reach? Consider also the sun/shade requirements of the plants & the gardeners. in terms of their reachability? What type of vertical structure is most suitable for a particular plant? How sturdy & how high does the vertical structure have to be? For example. but splayed at the bottom. Climbers can grow up (from plants rooted at ground level or in planter boxes or containers) the pergola. supported by posts. beans & tomatoes. an arch or be incorporated in a raised bed or container.g. sun & shade characteristics suitable? Will you be gardening from seated or standing position. in cross-section resembling the letter ‘A’. The poles are then splayed apart. often made from timber or metal. small plant containers & baskets can be hung from the rafters of the pergola. a planter or a container. will a tee-pee for tomatoes be best located ground level garden . These are often used for growing melons. can be an idyllic spot in the garden. metal or timber) up which climbers can grow. the Wisteria climber requires very strong vertical support system. metal. • • • • • Cultivate Fact Sheet 3: Vertical Gardening Aileen Westbrook © 25 February 2007 Page 2 of 6 . or a containers? Are the soil. a planter box. Arches made from trellis work or twisted wire can support climbing plants. a raised bed. Towers are pyramidal structures consisting of a tall central vertical pole surrounded by an array of tall vertical elements (e. Also. often constructed from timber or metal. & the self-supporting structure inserted into a ground level bed.g.
so ensure that they at a height permitting frequent watering. with only one vertical face open. Cultivate Fact Sheet 3: Vertical Gardening Aileen Westbrook © 25 February 2007 Page 3 of 6 . To minimize accidents. Vertical planters can be freestanding (both vertical faces open to the air) in which case they must be anchored to a floor. allow you to hang baskets & other containers. soil moisture is retained longer than in other containers because the soil surface is not exposed to the air. in a single plane. the height of which can be customised. or bolted to a wall. The containers are about 300mm deep. Ropes & pulleys can be used to lower hanging baskets for tending. The containers are covered in plastic. such as can look spectacular descending from hanging baskets. then wire mesh. tie a safety knot to become wedged in the pulley. filled with wire-fronted boxes. However. & then finally stacked or inserted into a vertical timber frame. then raise them again out of harm’s way. • • Hanging baskets Overhead structures such as pergolas or house eaves. Drought tolerant plants are ideal for hanging baskets. to reduce the strength necessary to raise & lower the basket. Vertical wall gardens (sometimes called vertical planters) are an array of ‘containers’ that hold then unexposed soil surface perpendicular to the ground. in a fan shape for example.• Espalier – a trelliswork of various forms on which the branches of fruit or ornamental trees are extended horizontally. usually square or rectangular in shape. With double or triple pulleys you can make a small block & tackle system. Plants that have a trailing habit. should control be lost. The plants thus grow sideways. Hanging baskets dry out quickly. The soil needs to be changed around once a year and a drip watering system needs to be designed for the structure. Vertical wall gardens are quite complex to construct. The final structure resembles a bookcase. Plant material is inserted into each container by first punching a hole through the plastic & wire. then positioning the root system.
Horticultural Therapy: A Guide for All Seasons. Gardens in Healthcare Facilities: Uses. 1999. M. P.au Thrive The Geoffrey Udall Centre Beech Hill Reading England RG7 2AT http://www. St Louis: National Garden Clubs. 1994. G. P. and Barnes. Provides publications. Able to Garden: A Practical Guide for the Disabled & Elderly Gardeners. Bethesda Maryland: Woodbine House.uk An excellent resource. 1978. Dallas: Taylor Publishing Co.com. Therapeutic Benefits & Design Recommendations. New York: Wiley. Rothert. journal.thrive.R. The Garden & the Handicapped Child.References Adil. G. Brown.org. Cooper Marcus. (ed). Pease.R. and J. 2001. London: Batsford. 1994.R.greenweb. • • Cultivate Fact Sheet 3: Vertical Gardening Aileen Westbrook © 25 February 2007 Page 4 of 6 . London: The Disabled Living Foundation. The Enabling Garden: Creating Barrier-Free Gardens. Tools and Plants. 1990. C. J. Accessible Gardening for People with Physical Disabilities: A Guide to Methods. DeHart M. Resources Organisations & Associations • Cultivate Horticultural Therapy Society of NSW Telopea Centre 250 Blaxland Road Ryde NSW 2112 (02) 9448 6392 Victorian Horticultural Therapy Association http://www. Elliot.
edu.php • • Related Links Use Internet search engines with the key words: enabling garden.chicagobotanic.gardening4good. and barrier-free gardening.gardenforever. healing garden.com.• Chicago Botanic Garden Horticultural Therapy Services 1000 Lake Cook Road Glencoe Illinois 60022 http://www. http://www. Virginia 24061 http://www.asn. research bibliography.org http://www.org • People-Plant Council Department of Horticulture Virginia Polytechnic Institute Blacksburg.otnsw. accessible garden.com • Gardening for Good Great sites with suggestions for gardeners.org.au The Australian Association of Occupational Therapists http://www.human/PPC. publications. horticultural therapy.ahta.org/therapy • The American Horticultural Therapy Association 909 York Street Denver Colorado 80206-3799 http://www.htm Cultivate Fact Sheet 3: Vertical Gardening Aileen Westbrook © 25 February 2007 Page 5 of 6 . etc.on.au/index.ca/pages/linksenable.. The Independent Living Centre NSW http://www.gardenscape.html (Newsletter. conferences). arthritis. Some interesting & helpful sites are listed below.ilcnsw. to identify links to many different resources related to gardening for people with disabilities.au • Garden Forever (Many wonderful links for gardeners with disabilities. • Australian Society for Growing Native Plants. http://asgap.hort. allergies).vt. http://www.
ilcnsw. http://www.http://www.carryongardening.info • Guelph Enabling Garden www.edu/sap/research/idea.asp • The National Center on Physical Activity and Disability The National Center on Physical Activity and Disability.ncpad. education and design projects on universal design and environmental access.buffalo.org • The Independent Living Centre NSW http://www.asn.horticulturaltherapy.enablinggarden. University of Illinois at Chicago.uk • Horticultural Therapy and Therapeutic Recreation Information www.org. Some excellent resource material. This Centre conducts research.ap. http://www.org Cultivate Fact Sheet 3: Vertical Gardening Aileen Westbrook © 25 February 2007 Page 6 of 6 .au • The Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDEA).
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