Garden Variety

Look to your walls—inside and out—for planting inspiration.



ERIKA RECH

If you feel you don’t have enough room for a garden, you’re likely overlooking the very space that surrounds you: your walls. Eco-friendly and striking, living garden walls are a unique option for sprucing up your home’s interior or exterior. These artistic gardens also provide benefits such as noise reduction and better air quality.

“Anything that’s considered a host plant—tillandsias, bromeliads, orchids—can be used on living walls,” says Scott McCauley of Nature’s Palette in Orlando.  “All they require is a once-a-day spray of water.” Bonus: These plants are unlikely to attract insects.

McCauley has been building custom living walls for clients for more than a year. The process can take up to a week, starting with finding the perfect wood frame. First, McCauley staples a mesh sheet to the frame, using either a wire or black plastic mesh. Then he loops moss through the mesh to create a fully green base from top to bottom.

Clockwise from top left: Erika Rech (3); Roberto Gonzalez

“You can use sheet moss, reindeer moss or sphagnum, but if you want color, I’d suggest using either sheet moss or reindeer,” he says. Once the moss foundation is complete, it’s time to add the plants. McCauley wraps the stems with floral wire and attaches them individually to the base. “That way if you want to replace a plant, all you have to do is unfasten it.”

Light and location are important considerations for a living garden wall. “These walls have to be where there’s bright light and some air circulation,” says McCauley. “They also need to be facing east. You don’t want them facing west because they’ll burn in direct afternoon sunlight.”
Jennifer Crotty, owner of Porch Therapy/99Market, sells many of the plants—including tillandsias and orchids—that are ideally suited for living garden walls at her shop in Audubon Park’s East End Market.

“These are some of the most uncomplicated plants to work with,” says Crotty. “Soil is not a large requirement, so dirt isn’t an issue in the house.”
Crotty offers a variation on the living garden wall: hanging transparent glass globes and painted pottery pieces that are perfect displays for tillandsias and other air plants. She calls them aeriums. Maintenance is simple.  “All you have to do is once a week pull the air plant out, run it under water, and pop it back in,” she says. Whether your garden addition is large or small, both McCauley and Crotty believe that adding a bit of nature to a room is a necessity. For Crotty, it has to do with the well-being they bring to a home.

“Many plants do a good job of filtering the air,” she says. “The larger the leaf, the more surface area it’s using to pull in carbon dioxide. It puts out a new oxygen flow and, to some degree during this process, it pulls toxins from the air.”

For McCauley, it’s more about the feel of the space. “I’ve got to be surrounded by plants. I don’t think a room is complete unless there are plants in it.”
One of his other distinctive creations is a refurbished side table from which he removed the front wood panels and installed a living garden to give the piece an entirely new look. “This is living art in essence. Living walls are just a great opportunity to add plants in a way that you would probably never dream of when you’re faced with little room.”

Adds Crotty: “Having plants is just good for you all around. It softens the soul.”  

Add your comment:

 

Guides & Resources

Fall Getaways

Fall is finally on its way and now is the perfect time to plan your getaway. Check out some of these great deals and special destinations just a short drive from Orlando.

Real Estate's Hot 100

Whether you’re trying to buy or sell real estate, getting the best deal means finding an agent who possesses savvy and know-how and gets results. This list showcases some Central Florida agents who have demonstrated those skills.

Spotlight on Plastic Surgeons 2014

This special advertising section highlights the accomplishments of plastic surgeons, who tell about their commitment to helping people look their best.

Orlando's Best Lawyers of 2014

Get informed with our annual list of more than 400 Orlando-area attorneys, compiled by Best Lawyers in America. The annual selection features lawyers in 78 areas of practice.

Spotlight on Lawyers 2014

Our special advertising section featuring profiles on local lawyers.

Premier Doctors

This special advertising section highlights the professionalism, backgrounds and achievements of dozens of doctors.