Suthi Picotte

How Vertical Gardens Are Redefining Houseplants

Vertical gardens, sometimes known as “green-” or “living walls”, are like something out of an ecological utopia. Plants are incorporated into the architecture of buildings, bringing an organic, lush beauty to industrial exteriors– but unlike facades shrouded in vines or terraces engulfed in flowers (which provide plants with dirt and water at the base), green walls contain dirt and water throughout. They are at once timeless and modern (and even a little a futuristic), with iconic cities like Paris integrating them into their renowned architectural aesthetic.

As the marriage of human engineering and the natural world, vertical gardens offer an excellent medium to explore how and where we relate to nature. Family-owned company Woollypocket offers a range of products that make vertical gardening accessible to the individual and can be placed almost anywhere in the home or garden. Simple to install and easy to maintain, they encourage adults and children alike to think creatively about green spaces. Woollypocket’s modular design allows for flexibility and innovation in determining their installation, such that unexpected places (like the wall above the fireplace or under a framed photograph) become points of contact with the natural world.

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As a functional facet of the home, indoor plants have been shown to reduce stress and provide comfort when introduced to a space. For children especially, connecting with nature is an important developmental experience. Woollypocket’s products are an ideal choice for households without access to a garden, as they offer not only the opportunity for hands-on interaction with nature but a chance to see the science of horticulture at work in unexpected places.

Both of Woollypocket’s models for vertical gardening rely on the little known but extremely effective principle of “air pruning” to keep plants healthy. The technique is frequently used by gardeners during propagation, as it facilitates healthy root development. In air pruning, roots are exposed to dry or low-humidity air, which causes them to stop growing. This encourages secondary root growth, which continues until the secondary root system reaches the air and stops growing, in turn stimulating tertiary root growth, and so on and so forth until the plant has formed an extensive, complex, and healthy root system across the container. For Lil’ Sprouts just learning to garden, the observation of air pruning can be an excellent way to teach kids about how plants protect themselves against overwatering.

With their guerrilla-gardening style, Woollypocket is redefining what a garden can be–for the better. Their School Garden package offers a compact version of an edible schoolyard, complete with lesson plans, and only needs a wall to hang on to. Vertical gardens offer a dynamic solution to standard challenges faced by edible education (space, poor soil, etc) and a more equitable approach to gardening, especially in highly urbanized areas.

Making room for green spaces both for ourselves in the present and for Lil’ Sprouts in the future is essential. Utopian and practical, vertical gardens can be a tool for education: one that reduces our carbon footprint and seemingly defies the impossible.

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