Friday, January 10, 2014

Vertical Vignettes

Some of my loyal blog readers were probably troubled that I didn't have a blog yesterday...or maybe not.  :)  I had to take a personal day as my basement water pipes burst and created an interesting water feature in our finished basement.  Since that exciting event, the pipes have burst in two other locations over the last 24 hours and this recurring nightmare is hopefully over now!  Yesterday, we did have a wonderful turnout of volunteers working on carpentry projects, painting and bringing lights in from the Holiday Lights Show (HLS).  I stopped by in the morning and saw Maury, Gary, Ron Y., Jim D., Vern, Dave T., Dr. Gredler, Pat, Terry, Urban, Gene and Bill O.  Larry was keeping busy with various projects as well and will shift to winter equipment maintenance in the coming weeks.

Today we had Pat out in the gardens bringing back in HLS lights for processing and storage.  He has developed some nice procedures that will help streamline this monumental process and improve our storage and care of our lights and displays.  Dr. Gredler came in for more painting of our Adirondack chairs and Maury was in for some priming work.  I also saw Mark S., Rollie, Ryan C. and Steve S.  I'm still catching up on some projects and doing the "January shuffle" which includes seed ordering, presentation preparation (WPT Garden Expo on Feb. 7, 8, 9., check it out!), plant records updating, etc.  It's a fun time of year but I'm already feeling the "crunch" 10 days in to the New Year.  Speaking of the Wisconsin Public Television Garden Expo (, RBG will again have an informational booth and I'll be doing a couple presentations as well.  This event now draws over 20,000 attendees annually.  The top photo was taken last year at one of the Expo vendor booths.  That looks like a nice re-use and modification of a mirror frame for a "Vertical Vignette" using minimal soil.   This "framed arrangement" is neat and prompted my blog topic today.

One of the topics I frequently address in a presentation is vertical gardening.  This is a broad topic that focuses on addressing limited space, soil-less areas and spaces that will lend themselves to an alternative for growing and displaying plants differently from what we consider as a basic garden approach.  Vertical gardening opportunities, green walls and green roof technologies are all hot topics that continue to get more exposure annually as research and trialing continues to advance this science of growing and/or presenting plants in less traditional formats.  I'm focusing on some of the smaller vertical garden options as evidenced in this blog.  It's important to note that I'm not saying that these approaches are better or easier than traditional gardening.  While these options present opportunities, they also present the challenges of proper installation, soil preparation (if warranted), watering, plant care, etc.  In some instances, this type of gardening can be frustrating if not researched prior to trying it out.  Understanding the nuances of these various systems is vital to their success but also beyond the scope of this blog. This is just a teasing taste of some things I've seen recently.  Keep in mind that some of these options can be used inside or outside but the implications of our winters will be a huge factor when considering these systems as it relates to plant selection and hardiness, care and ultimately winterization for outdoor options.

sleeved pouch system
mesh-enforced wall planter with perennials (grown horizontally, secured vertically)
picture frame gardens with a focus on succulents
details from above
details from second photo above
close-up of stonecrops (Sedum sp.) in a vertical planter
sedum frame planter
a larger vertical planting with fabric pouches and automatic drip irrigation (all framed with substantial wooden support structure)
hen & chicks (Sempervivum sp.) wreath
not a vertical planter but a neat chair planter (had to share!) at a nursery in Vancouver, B.C.  (understandably, they weren't happy when I sat down to tie my shoes...)

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