I’ve always been a big fan of vertical gardening, especially when it comes to covering fences that add no value to the landscape or when space is cramped. My article that appeared in USA Weekend Magazine months ago discusses this type of gardening in more detail.
I’ve been in Israel for over a week now. And although I’ve walked in this neighborhood several times before, on this visit my daughter showed me a private walkway that buttresses an elementary school and a small zoo. So, imagine my surprise when I heard the noises of children playing out in a courtyard and glanced over to rest my eyes on a vertical wall that was simple, lush, overwhelmingly beautiful and at the same time offered some real benefits! It gave the children privacy from pedestrians but also covered an eyesore, a chain linked fence.
The wall is made up of only two plants. The first is a South African native vine, Juanulloa aurantiaca. It’s from the Solanum family and is Hardy in Zones 9 and up. Because I live in Zone 6, I had never seen this vine, at least in these proportions. Logee’s Greenhouse has Juanulloa aurantiaca for sale, along with a description. They say that the vine blooms in spring, summer and fall. It is winter in Israel now and trust me, this vine is in full bloom!
The other vine is Thunbergia Grandiflora ‘Blue Skyflower’. I’ve used thunbergia vines similar to this one multiple times in my garden. If they managed to grow a total of 12 feet with one leader and a few tendrils wrapping around for the entire season, I thought I had achieved success. Its delicate blue flowers are perfect and the vine literarlly smothers the wall. I should have such a problem back home!!
Patrick Blanc. I became aware of who he was when flipping through a magazine and seeing a magnificent building in Paris smothered in plants. That was the moment that I saw the true potential of what vertical gardening could be as an art form! He is on the cutting edge of creating couture vertical gardens and is changing the way that gardeners throughout the world are beginning to use plants on the fronts and sides of walls, including interior walls, to create intricate tapestries. Le Mur Vegetal, as he has copyrighted it, is a system of getting plants to grow on walls without any soil. Patrick says that these living walls can be grown indoors or outdoors according to climatic conditions and that the plants act as a purification system. And much, much more! I am in awe everytime I look at photos of his work. Sure, we can’t re-create what Patrick does. But can he act as an inspiration for us gardeners on all fours planting our vines hoping that they’ll take off into a glorious bloom this coming spring? You bettcha!