The vertical gardens of recent times originated from the work of Patrick Blanc, a French botanist who designed the hydroponic vertical garden to prove that plants can survive with only water based nutrients. The majority of vertical gardens today are derivatives of Blanc’s work. Hanging Gardens took a different approach and worked from a more natural base, starting with plants growing in pockets of soil.

This design was done for a couple of good reasons. Firstly the cost of soil based gardens is dramatically reduced and this allows for the average person to afford a bit of greenery on their vertical surfaces, be it a garden fence or apartment balcony.

Secondly, in New Zealand, plants have evolved over millions of years to grow in tiny pockets of volcanic soil and many native plants even do without the soil and grow in the trees. By replicating the natural environment and providing pockets of soil, Hanging Gardens provide great environments for plants to grow in otherwise hostile environments.

The third reason for using pockets of soil is that the soil contains very beneficial bacteria which remove toxins from the environment and symbiotically assist with plant health. Furthermore, the felt pockets aerate the plant roots which is essential for growth.

But of course plants and bacteria need moisture and so irrigation is a necessity for all vertical gardens. Soil based Hanging Gardens only needs about a cup of water per plant per day, and so the operating cost of soil based gardens is very low compared to the 24/7 operating cost of hydroponic gardens.

By using high quality materials to create the light weight, supporting framework, the plants in their pockets can easily be installed and swapped about, without damaging the plants. This makes ongoing maintenance very easy.

We know that the old hedgerows in England support some 10,000 species of wildlife and their benefit to the environment is invaluable. By working with nature, soil based vertical gardens are simply a new way of re-creating these environments in urban areas.

While vertical gardens are still viewed with skepticism by some, they have undoubtedly demonstrated their benefits in a whole ranges of ways from reducing urban temperatures, to assisting with water run-off, to very significant human health improvements.  At Hanging Gardens, we believe that working with nature is the best way to go up the wall!

Leigh Nicholson