The Grumpy Gardener – Another Dimension

The Grumpy Gardener – October 

Hints & Tips With Mike Alexander
In his regular column for French News Online, professional gardener Mike Alexander suggests avid gardener’s might care to lift their eyes unto the skies and a try a bit of the vertical stuff.

We gardeners tend to think horizontally. If you have a large garden the first thing most gardeners consider, other than the horizontal, is the occasional tree or climber. 
Patrick Blanc

Vertical gardening on the facade of Les Halles à Avignon by French botanist Patrick Blanc (Credit Wikipedia)

Today however, more and more garden space is being restricted by urban expansion. It is this change in living style that has forced people to start thinking about how to grow plants in a vertical plane.

In recent times the man most associated with vertical gardening and the green wall concept is French botanist Patrick Blanc whose creations have changed the face of many buildings across the world. His works of art, for that is what they are, include Les Halles in Avignon, the Museum of Science and Industry in Paris and the stunningly transformed Pont Max Juve’nal in Aix-en Provence.

The first patented green wall system was in 1938 by Stanley Hart White of the University of Illinois. Although Hart White may have come up with the first patent it was Patrick Blanc who really kicked vegetative architecture into the limelight. That may have been because in Hart White’s time we simply did not have the vast expanses of vertical brick and concrete walling that we are surrounded by today. It is often said that trees are the lungs of the planet and as humans we seem pretty intent on damaging our lungs at the moment.

Another forward thinker in this regard is the architect Stefano Boeri with his proposal for the Bosco Verticale in Milan. This stunning concept sets out to house 2.5 hectares of forest up the sides of a building using 480 large trees, 250 smaller trees and no fewer that 5000 shrubs. Concepts like this have potential to really change our urban environments for the better and could turn cities into healthy, green environments absorbing pollution and minimizing the need for central heating or air conditioning. It would also provide lots of interesting horticultural possibilities for gardeners.

Patrick Blanc

Another vertical garden by Patrick Blanc – CaixaForum, cultural center Madrid, Spain (Credit Wikipedia)

Don’t let these huge ambitious projects stop you from looking at using vertical opportunities where you can expand your own planting options.


A vertical garden at Fraisse-sur-Agout (Hérault) – (Credit: Wikipedia)

There are some very simple methods of making a hanging garden of your own. You can colour up you garden just through hanging more pots and containers on doors, walls and tree trunks. It really changes the whole dynamic of the space available. What is more, these systems offer opportunities to garden even for people who only have small patios or court yards.

I know I have become somewhat trapped in my thinking in this regard, perhaps for no other reason than that horizontal gardening is the way I have always gardened. I tend normally to work in large gardens where the strict use of every available space has not been an issue. I now have only a courtyard which has forced me to revisit how I would normally lay out a planting plan.

Simple vertical gardening

An example of simple vertical gardening (Credit Basswulf Flckr)

I hope that some of the gardens shown here provide readers with the same inspiration that they have given me.


Previously – click an image below
To read February's gardening tips article - click this image
Is a world without bees possible? Read about this crisis that will affect us all - click here
Prune for Results
A World Without Bees?
What you should have done in January!
Prune your roses - click here
Fruit Tree Pruning
Wars of the Roses
Grumpy Gardener April - It's War Out There. Click to view
Click to read this article
Prune When Finished
Herald of Spring…
click to read Grumpy's july  tips
You’ve got to be quick!
Un-thirsty Lavender
To read this August 2011 article - click here
To read this August 2011 article - click here
Grasp the Nettle
Star Jasmine – Madrid
To read this August 2011 article - click here
To read this August 2011 article - click here
Jihad – on Bunnies Ears
Autumn Arrives
Designer chic or neccessity? - click here for full story
To read this article - click here
Designer Chic?
Gravity – not to be ignored!
If winter comes, can Spring be far behind? Grumpy contemplates the winter garden
If winter comes, can Spring be far behind? Grumpy contemplates the winter garden
If Winter Comes….
Hottest chilli in the world
Dogs and Daffodils... full story - click this image
The iris and Madame la Guillotine... full story - click this image
Dog Days…
Fleur de Lys
Hedge You Bets - how do YOU like your hedges... full story - click this image
To read a previous article
– click an image –
Hedge Your Bets

Grumpy Gardener

Our Grumpy Gardener has been gardening professionally in France for more years than he cares to remember and before that in Africa and the UK. Today he happily shares his expertise with French News Online readers. Your gardening questions are welcome and while they may not be individually answered, they may form the basis of future monthly columns.

Writer: Mike Alexander

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