WILD WALLS

WORDS & IMAGES: Kate Weiner

In the Spring of 2014, Nicole, me, and our friends Kimora and Sienna set out to build several vertical gardens to beautify our small East Coast campus. Our intention was not only to make passerby days a little brighter, but also to raise awareness of green walls. Green walls can reduce home energy costs and increase oxygen circulation in the atmosphere. This brand of gardening is not just for pretty: we wanted to get our faculty and students excited by the potential of functional landscape design to foster sustainable practices.

The gardens we built (shown above) were constructed from salvaged wood and Woolly Pockets, a brand of durable wall planters made from recycled materials. Although we first tried building our walls using foraged pallets in the Fall, we realized that the irregularity of most pallets didn't make for the healthiest gardens (and we weren't able to grow edibles because of the chemicals present in many shipping pallets). Woolly pockets were both visually pleasing and as safe for growing herbs as they were hardy succulents. Several schools in the area, charmed by the colorful walls, asked for their own. And so after graduation, Wild Walls donated our vertical gardens to a local preschool and nearby elementary school.

What does it take to build your own wall? Patience, a supportive group of friends, and a lot of drive. We were able to build our large-scale wall (approx. 15 by 5 feet) through a generous grant from our college's environmental program. However, for those without access to these kinds of financial resources, building a vertical garden for less is well within reach. Check in with your local nursery about potential plant donations and scour your nearby home improvement store for free pallets to use as a framework rather than as a planter. And if you have any questions about creating a Wild Wall in your corner of the universe, write to Loam. We would love to see vertical gardens sprout across the country!