The trend for green or ‘living walls’ continues in popularity, in both domestic and commercial situations, as the technology advances and more specialist companies are set up. These walls are a fabulous way of making use of limited space, really making an impact with their richly textured, cascading greenery. Stunning for the main wall of a small garden, they’re also great if you look onto an ugly wall or fence from the kitchen sink, for example. They work especially well in shady side returns and basement light wells.
These vertical gardens involve the attachment of a structure fitted with planting pockets and growing medium, along with an integrated watering system, or more sophisticated hydroponic systems. Unlike rambling climbers, the planting can be beautifully controlled, creating great sweeps of different leaf colour and texture. Evergreen structure is important for year-round interest, as is the careful consideration of plants that suit the aspect. Shade-tolerant schemes are particularly successful with plants like ferns, epimedium, pachysandra and bergenia, with dark purple heucheras adding colour. For sunnier spots, sun tolerant plants such as Carex ‘Evergold’, sedum and festuca will be happy as will edibles like strawberries or herbs.
As well as opting for low maintenance plants, living walls need maintenance, such as removing dead matter and replacing plants that are struggling, cutting back larger plants and irrigation. So make sure you can reach all areas - or find a specialist company to do the maintenance.