What To Do In The Garden This Month; Beautiful, functional and easy to grow, a lush green wall will allow your garden, courtyard or balcony to take on another dimension
WANT MORE GREENERY in your garden? Whether you have a large backyard that’s a bit lacklustre or a postage-stampsized plot in need of a compact solution, a “vertical garden” or “green wall” could be the answer. This used to mean a few climbers over the fence or a wall, but now covering the side of a house or the length of a garden wall with pockets of greenery is all the rage. Fancy creating one at your place? Here are your options
Dutch-born artist Joost Bakker provides inspiration for a striking wall garden in his pottedstrawberry- covered installation (Greenhousebyjoost.com) that was recently at Sydney’s Circular Quay. To copy this look, simply organise pot plants on outdoor shelves in a grid pattern. Flip back to page 42 for inspiration.
The Yates Vertical Garden Bag ($5.95) is a great option for a tiny space. It’s easy to use and can hold flowers such as petunias and pansies or edible plants such as baby spinach and strawberries.
The espalier technique is a method of growing plants “flat packed” against a wall, usually on a trellis. Merrywood Nursery in Vic (Merrywoodplants. com.au) sells over 30 varieties of espaliered plants on frames, starting from $250.
Another idea that works well in small areas is to use a hanging shoe organiser with pockets. Get one that’s made from plastic mesh rather than fabric (try Howards Storage World) and hang it on your fence or wall.
Fill the pockets with lightweight potting mix, then add either potted colour or “rockery” plants like succulents, depending on the look you’re after. Alternatively, invest in a modular living wall system (see right and above) from Woolly Pocket (Woollypocket.com). Made from recycled plastic water bottles, these planter pockets come in three sizes and four colours.
Our Cool Garden
WHAT CLINCHED THE DEAL for David Netto to buy this suburban home was the reaction of his eldest daughter, Kate. It was December 2003 and she was about two years old at the time. “Kate was so delighted by that garden, particularly the water features, that it tipped me to buy the house within minutes of first walking in,” says the designer and writer. “Otherwise I probably would have dithered and lost it.”
And lost it, he would have. The home is a 1960s property designed by Modernist architect Richard Neutra. The previous owner had restored the house and garden to “pristine condition”, in keeping with the architect’s original vision. “But I did decide to decorate the inside in a specifically un-Neutra way,” David says. “I wanted it to resemble Modernist houses of the 1930s, before all the rules set in – something rich and more eclectic than what we now know as mid-century design.”
“I LIKE THAT THE GARDEN IS PLANNED AS AN EXTENSION OF THE ROOMS INSIDE THE HOUSE”
But David did not dare to change the garden, which was also part of the original design. “You can’t, actually,” he adds. “It’s sort of an inevitable design, at one with the architecture of the house.”
And that’s the beauty of this garden. “I like that it’s really planned as an extension of the rooms inside,” David says. The design masks the small square meterage of the interior – which is only 140 sq m – with the use of terraces and material choices, creating the illusion that the outside and inside are one,” he adds. “This sort of house convinces you that you are living out of doors when you’re inside.”
The garden is put to good use by the family, which has extended to include another daughter, Madelyn. “It looks great year round,” David says. “I love it when all the Agapanthus ‘Peter Pan’ bloom in the back courtyard. We are conscious of using mostly plants that can tolerate heat, sun and don’t require lots of water.”
The front garden is often admired by guests when they arrive for dinner. The path at night is lit with candles, which adds a glow to the surrounding plants and trees. And while David doesn’t consider himself a gardener, he’s a keen admirer of them, especially this one.