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Five fabulous vertical gardens

By Aileen Scoular 25/07/2013

Why not create a vertical garden?

The sight of thousands of plants weaving their way up the face of a tall building, or surging in emerald waves across a wall, can be breathtaking. Here are five of the best vertical gardens from around the world:

Quai Branly Museum, Paris

Installed in 2005, this planted façade was made more complicated because the planting had to be designed around a series of huge windows. The planting goes right down to ground level so passers-by can touch and feel the leaves.

Try it: Two of the plants at Quai Branly work in small-scale green walls and roofs: Helexine (otherwise known as ‘mind your own business’) and Heuchera (coral flower). Avoid planting Helexine in the ground, though – it’s a rampant spreader.

CaixaForum Museum, Madrid

The Spanish capital’s contemporary art museum hosts 600 square metres of vibrant vertical planting space, including a rainbow of green curves and swirls. When it was created in 2007, it was the largest vertical garden that green walls guru Patrick Blanc had ever tackled.

Try it: Curved shapes work equally well on the ground. Next time you’re sowing flower seeds or planting summer bedding, try a combination of organic shapes, rather than straight rows.

Athenaeum Hotel, central London

Visit Piccadilly in central London day or night – you can’t miss this striking hotel. One of its corners is clad in a globetrotting combination of plants from Chile, New Zealand, South Africa and the Far East.

Try it: This vertical garden is illuminated at night, which helps to highlight its jungle of leaf textures. If you install a living wall at home, think about how its position and the use of uplighting could create a piece of night-time wall art visible from indoors.

Digby Road, East London

Created by Scotscape Living Walls in 2011, this award-winning vertical garden soars out of an eco-friendly apartment block in Hackney, close to the Olympic Village. Not only is it the highest living wall in Europe, it also features more than 24,000 evergreen plants, keeping it lush all year round.

Try it: Green walls can be used to solve practical problems, such as hide unattractive brickwork, as well as a lack of growing space.

Icon Hotel, Hong Kong

What was initially supposed to be a simple strip of planting turned into a meandering wave of green that shimmies its way up and around the hotel lobby. Created by Patrick Blanc in 2011, it has an oriental feel that perfectly suits its location.

Try it: Vertical planting doesn’t have to grow outdoors. Why not try a panel of plants in your home or office? Scotscape is now creating Living Artworks in a variety of frame finishes, including brushed stainless steel and wood.

There’s something irresistible about a carpet of green leaves, snaking towards the sky. So how can you do it at home? While plants can survive without soil, they do need a regular supply of water. Garden designer, Andrew Wenham, knows more about the challenges than most, having installed vertical planting in both his show gardens and his designs for clients. Wenham recommends painting the wall with bituminous paint, then lining it with a heavy-duty builder’s plastic before installing the hanging rails and planted panels (growing plants up the side of walls can cause damage if the wall is not properly protected).

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