Presentation: Vertical Garden Design. Workshop: Creations from the Garden

Presentation:   Vertical Garden Design

Manon Temblay presented – Living Walls/Vertical Gardens       MANONTREMB@GMAIL.COM

Manon is a graduate of the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific and has a garden maintenance business. She has taken design courses from the University of Guelph and has researched and designed living walls and vertical gardens over the past 5 years.

Patrick Blanc of the Musee du Quai Branly in Paris has become known as the godfather of vertical and living walls after he created a vegetal wall in 2005. In this method, plants are rooted within a structure and the structure is fastened to a wall or other structure. The plants are not rooted in the ground.


  • why are you building this garden?
  • do you want it to be drought tolerant?
  • is it to create privacy?
  • what aesthetic do you want to create?
  • is it for food production?
  • will it be viewed only in summer or do you want year round interest?
  • what will it look like in the winter when leaves are gone?
  • how much maintenance are you prepared to do?


  • creates a beautiful living art
  • provides a privacy screen
  • improves air quality by absorbing carbon dioxide and trapping airborne pollutants and particulates
  • reduces stress
  • enhances wellbeing
  • reduces noise
  • increases biodiversity
  • insulates buildings
  • helps to mitigate the urban heat effect.


  • living walls require regular maintenance
  • need constant fertilizing and watering
  • use a lot of water, depending on location and types of plants
  • can develop mold or moisture problems, especially if poorly designed

Design considerations:

  • weight: framework must hold the weight of soil, water and plants. Plants and a wet growing medium will be heavy and must be adequately supported.
  • wall protection: the wall must be protected with an appropriate waterproof material.
  • growing medium : needs a mixture that retains moisture.
  • drainage: a drainage system must be built into the structure.
  • irrigation: water needs to be disbursed throughout the area and drip is the best system for doing that efficiently

site conditions: what are the microclimate conditions? Consider light, shadow, wind.   Where will the wall be placed? Ideal is against a warm wall that will protect from killing frosts and enable an start early and late fall growth. Does your site provide the conditions required by the plants you want to grow?

  • maintenance: these installations require a lot of maintenance because there are so many plants in one space. pruning and pinching new growth to encourage bushiness, fertilizing regularly and checking how the irrigation is working are regular tasks. How much are you prepared to do?

Planting considerations:

  • all the desired plants must thrive in the same microclimate and require similar fertilization and watering regimes. Consider whether you want contrasting or monochromatic colours, what mixture of leaf textures and growth habits will work together. Match the growth habit of plants to the type of installation, choose plants based on seasonal cycles.

Some plants suitable to living walls:

  • ornamental climbing plants: clematis-evergreen/deciduous, honeysuckles, chocolate vine, wisteria, hops, grapes.
  • vegetables/edible plants: tomatoes, zucchini, peas, beans, peppers tayberries, thornless blackberries, chard, kale, arugula, spinach, cherry tomatoes, strawberries, parsley, cilantro & French tarragon.
  • ornamental grasses: mondo grass, heuchera, japanese spurge, carex, stipa Nassella tenuissima.
  • can use invasives because they are contained and can’t spread.
  • ferns: clumping, trailing or epiphytic ferns for shaded spaces. Licorice fern, polysticum ( sword fern), asplenium scolopendrium (heart’s tongue), platycerium (staghorn fern).
  • Indoor:  one idea is to use fabric or felt wall planters mounted on a backboard of waterproofed plywood. Use a waterproofing membrane under the felt such as PVC sheets that can be obtained at Industrial plastics to protect the wall and contain leaked water.
  • Growing media: combinations of screened leaf mold and compost mixed with coconut peat (coir fibre), peat moss, sphagnum moss, perlite or vermiculite.

Workshop:   Creations from the Garden

NANCY BISONETTE:  Basket Weaver and Gardener            npbasket

There is a host of beading and basketry materials in your garden, giving you the means to create works of Art. Basket weaving is the oldest creative art and one that cannot be accomplished any other means than by hand. When gathering materials be adventurous! Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • bamboo, Daylily, Iris, rose hips, lavender, beans, corn husks, Mountain Ash, Rose petal beads, blueberries, willow, red osier, lilac, cherry, cedar, plum, maple, hydrangea, rhododendron, holly photinia, honeysuckle, hops. (any vines) shells, acorns, phygelius, allium family stems, bee balm, delphinium, bronze fennel, Joe Pye Weed (push a pin through when they are dry).

Making beads:

  • cut to desired size when green and string up to dry.

use wire, thread, dental floss, etc.

  • use a drill to make holes where required. Bit sizes you will need: 1/16 and 5/64 or 3/32

Making cordage: Cordage or rope can be made in many thicknesses depending on the material used. Regardless of size or materials the process is the same. Use only two strips and twist them individually to the left and then twist them together to the right. This makes them secure and the resulting cord will not unravel.


  • you can use any leave or stem that lends itself to twisting. Some examples are: sweet grass, daylily, tulip, daffodil, Iris, & phormium leaves.
  • harvest when plant is green just as the tips start to turn and dry by wrapping materials in newsprint and roll up, hanging away from direct sun. Before working the material soak it for about half an hour so it can be manipulated without breaking.
  • put unused dampened material in the freezer until you are ready to use it so it does not mold.

Orange peel:

  • remove pulp and cut in strips with scissors and roll up and thread onto a pin or wire.

The hole will remain when a pin is removed but a toothpick will stick.

Baskets need to be washed once a year. Dip in water – use a toothbrush to clean soiled spots and dry out of direct sun.

There is a local group called Flax to Linen Victoria that is growing and spinning flax to make fibre for weaving. Contact: The Fibrations Festival is August 16, 2015 – Fairfield Gonzales Community Place, 1330 Fairfield at Moss.