Pittsburgh and Spring Lake, Mich. — Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens has created a display of LiveWall green walls to showcase vertical gardening as an option for growing local produce in urban areas.
“Limited space is a significant challenge for urban gardening,” says Michael Bechtel, display horticulturist with the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. “With our green walls, we have the opportunity to study, evaluate and learn about growing edibles on space-efficient vertical gardens. This forward-thinking approach enables Phipps to offer education and assistance to homeowners, schools and community organizations on planning, installing and maintaining their own green walls so that they can benefit from fresh produce.”
“Green walls, also known as living walls, are structural and horticultural systems that attach to existing walls and transform them into vertical gardens,” says Dave MacKenzie, president of LiveWall. “Growing vegetables and herbs on its green wall display is an innovative way for Phipps to demonstrate how families and community groups can grow their own fresh, healthy produce even if they do not have areas for large garden plots.”
Phipps offers a variety of adult and youth programs, classes, and events to educate visitors about the benefits of greener gardening, raised-bed vegetable gardening techniques, local food production, and healthy eating. In addition, Phipps sponsors Homegrown, its outreach program dedicated to increasing community access to fresh produce, promoting better food choices, and improving the overall health of families. Since 2013, the program has established more than 200 vegetable gardens in urban and underserved neighborhoods. The latest step in Phipps’ important outreach mission is the installation of the LiveWall Green Wall display of vertical gardening. In the spring, beets, carrots, collard greens, kale, and kohlrabi grow on the green walls. Summer plantings include basil, rosemary, thyme, celery root, and various peppers.
Starting in 2015, Phipps tested LiveWall Inspire Living Wall Panels alongside several other living wall systems on the south facing wall of its Production Greenhouse Facility. The standardized panels are 4-feet wide and 7-feet, four inches tall. Each has 24 molded plastic modular planter boxes. After completing initial testing, Phipps installed nine more Inspire standard panels.
According to Bechtel, LiveWall proved to be the system of choice because of its soil volume and depth for growing and sustaining plants on the sunny wall, its integrated irrigation components, and the strength and durability of its materials.