Kristina Shevory writes in the NY Times about three vertical gardens and the people behind them.
Michael Riley is a former commodities trader and assistant director of the Horticultural Society of New York. He shared his passion for changing his Upper West Side apartment into a rain forest.
He took a number of expeditions into the rain forests around the world, “He realized that plants didn’t need to grow in pots with labels, he wanted to grow plants in ways that were natural to them”.
The process involved stripping the walls of plaster and affixing exterior-grade plywood . He painted bitumen paint onto the plywood to make it water proof. Cork bark was then stapled over the top. See a similar example here.
Plants were inserted into pockets in the cork. Sprinklers and lighting were installed overhead, trenches were put in at the base of the walls to catch water that trickled down, and pools were added in the middle of the room to increase humidity.
Matthew McGregor-Mento, 38, is an executive creative director at Gyro: HSR, a New York advertising agency. He and his wife, Emma, 35, a massage therapist, built a Patrick Blanc inspired vertical garden in their two-bedroom apartment in the East Village.
The process involved attaching an 8-by-10-foot aluminum frame to a wall in the entry hall. They screwed waterproof sheets of PVC to the frame and tacked on two layers of felt matting. Plants were then inserted into holes they cut in the felt.
A trough along the floor collects runoff water and a pump with a filtration sponge sends it back up the wall. Timers control the watering, which happens four times a day.
The living wall is made of some 400 plants — philodendrons, ivies and ferns. The total cost was $3,000. Read more about how Matt built his vertical garden from his website.
Peter Kastan, an unemployed movie location scout in Miami, built a vertical garden in a friends loft. Having never built a vertical garden before, he too was inspired by Patrick Blanc. He researched by contacting living-wall creators around the world for advice and driving all over Florida visiting nurseries to find plants. friend put up the 12-by-12-foot plant wall.
The hardest part he found was getting the irrigation, lighting and the plants right. So much so that in the first month, he lost several plants near the bottom of the wall that were getting too much water.
The total cost was about $10,000 and involves 650 plants, including bromeliads, hoyas, begonias and ferns, favoring those that were local and “the most interesting to look at. Read more about Peter’s living wall on his blog.
The College of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Washington provides the construction process below.