Maybe you live in town and you have a postage stamp for a yard. Or you're such an avid gardener that you've filled all your space. So you look around and see walls, fences, and your roof. Then it dawns on you. It's time to explore new gardening territory with vertical gardening. Vertical gardens are not new - we've all seen ivy on walls - but they certainly have changed. Nowadays, you can grow all kinds of plants in places you never thought you could.
Vines are growing machines. Some of them can grow to 50 feet in length. If you have a boring fence or wall, liven it up with a vine. Clematis is tame, while trumpet vines go nuts, and can tear up your siding. Be sure to pick a variety you can control and suits your setting. You can put up a trellis on your wall or fence for your vine to follow, or build an arbor or pergola for vines. Either way, you can have a stunning assortment of flowers and greenery that attracts birds and butterflies.
You can create your own version of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon with planters in the right places. If you put containers along balconies or ledges, you can put in some trailing plants, such as petunias or mini bells. These plants can create a green and flowery curtain that sways in the breeze. Your hanging garden would provide some much needed shade during the hot summer, yet be gone when you need sunlight in the winter.
Now for something completely different. There's a company called ELT that has created a system that lets you grow plants on your interior or exterior walls. You can use just about any kind of plant that has shallow roots, and create beautiful designs that look more like tapestry than a garden. The vertical garden system is a 20 by 24 inch rectangular plastic structure that has 25 containers for you to place your plants. You can fasten any number of rectangles together to cover any surface you want. They also make a vertical garden for interiors, either on the floor or as a frame on the wall. If you have a sloped roof that's exposed to sun all day, you can put some rectangles up to create an inexpensive green roof. Green roofs are becoming popular in Europe as a means of slowing down runoff and cooling buildings without air conditioning.
Patrick Blanc is a pioneer in modern vertical gardening, and has designed some creative and innovation installations around the world. Explore his walls, and get some ideas for your own garden.