Tapestry Vertical Gardens

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Vertical gardens, living walls, living spheres and more,,,,

From landscapes to living walls

In 2006 we launched a company called The Landscape Architect. The business was focussed on designing and installing contemporary gardens and landscapes. In 2008 we decided to include a living wall in the scheme for a roof terrace in Hackney. The client loved the concept so we set off to find suppliers. We couldn’t find anybody who offered what we wanted. It was all too dull, too functional, too evergreen, too rectangular, and too rigid. We wanted to track the gable end of a building and create an odd shaped triangular living wall. We wanted lots of colour and drama and seasonality. We wanted something that we could carry up a five floor building which didn’t have any lifts. We wanted something that was light enough to keep the structural engineers off our backs. 

In the end we decided to create the living wall ourselves. It took months and months of research along with a fair degree of trial and error. It was a sure-fire loss-leader but in the end everyone was delighted with the results. Over the subsequent decade, living walls featured in many of the gardens we designed and installed. With every new installation we were able to refine our system and style. During 2017 we started to appreciate how much we loved creating living walls. It was all that we really wanted to do. In the summer of 2018 we created our first three dimensional living wall with a set of living spheres for a scheme in Devon. As 2018 drew to a close we realised that we had not designed or installed a single garden during the year, let alone a landscape. Everything we had worked on had been a vertical garden. We realised it was time for a new company, with a new name. So welcome to Tapestry Vertical Gardens.

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"Drama is the Answer"

A massive high five to Alex Mitchell and the Evening Standard for such a fantastic article in Homes & Property last week. It’s always nice to read about our living walls, but when I’m described as “London’s king of the living wall”… well, what can I say besides wow… I had no idea. One does find these things awfully amusing. It is amazing to get such positive feedback and I for one give it my royal seal of approval. Thank you very much.

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In the news---Adam Shepherd
Emerald ripple

Here’s another seriously weird and wonderful plant I happened upon recently whilst out and about in Devon. Chris Kollen is the owner of Dutch Quality Flowers in Totnes and is a veritable font of knowledge when it comes to indoor plants (which is handy, as I’m no expert). His tiny but perfectly formed establishment is packed to the rafters with delights. Once again, I realise I’m simply a big child in a flowery sweet shop.

Peperomia caperata, commonly known as emerald ripple or peperomia, is a dense mound-forming tropical perennial that typically grows to around 20cm tall and as wide. It is an epiphytic plant that is native to Brazil.

An epiphyte is an organism that grows on the surface of a plant and derives its moisture and nutrients from the air, rain, water or from debris accumulating around it.

Peperomia caperata creates rosettes of long stemmed, wrinkled, deeply corrugated, heart-shaped, dark green leaves. Tiny, odd looking, whitish-green flowers bloom in summer and early autumn atop thin reddish flower stalks which rise well above the foliage. The strange looking flowers are produced in abundance and add considerable interest to the ornamental appearance of the plant. I love this plant and plan to include it in the scheme for my next indoor vertical garden.

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The Congo cockatoo

What a ridiculous name and a fabulously quirky plant this is. Apparently it’s a rare and much sought-after tropical that I happened to stumbled upon whilst visiting Hardy Exotics, a fantastic nursery in deepest darkest Cornwall. Impatiens niamniamensis, common name Congo cockatoo, parrot impatiens or simply parrot plant, is a species of flowering plant in the family Balsaminaceae.

In the DR Congo the leaves of Impatiens niamniamensis are eaten as a vegetable, to produce a vegetable salt and as a cure for heart troubles and illnesses caused by evil spirits. I decided not to eat my cockatoo plant, choosing instead to include it in a scheme for my latest living sphere, where it’s doing very nicely. Having not travelled that far it obviously feels quite at home here in deepest darkest evil spirit free Devon!

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Old Street (final instalment)

And so we all returned to Old Street once more this week for the final push. It’s been quite an undertaking installing nearly 90m2 of living wall, but we’re done, and the whole team firmly believe it’s been worth it. The client is delighted with the results and everyone who’s seen the walls either up close and personal or via our Instagram feed (the.landscape.architect) seems to like them too.

Personally, I think installing living walls and roof gardens in the heart of our ever expanding capital city sends out a very positive message. I firmly believe urban greening has an important role to play in the future health of our cities. There are lots of facts and figures being published about the possible positive effects of greenery in the city, some of which may well be proven to be true, others may not. One thing I am confident about (and to be clear this is only my humble opinion) is that they look great and they will have a positive effect on anyone who is lucky enough to have a desk in an office that looks out onto one.

After all, what’s not to like?

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Old Street (again)

At the sake of repeating myself, this week I’m sticking with the Old Street theme. I think it’s ok though, because I’m not here to tell you about the living wall we installed on the roof (that’s so last week) but the wall we’re now installing in the basement, and it’s a whopper. Weighing in at a recording beating 55m2 it’s the largest wall we’ve ever installed and I think it’s already looking pretty champion. Planted in sections nearly six months ago and left to mature at our nursery, we brought the panels to site last week. We then decided to lay the whole wall out on the floor of the building before installing it and it afforded us our first glimpse of the wall in all it’s glory. We’re heading back this week to finish the installation, and you can keep track of progress by following our Instagram feed @the.landscape.architect

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Urban Greening

I think the latest living wall we’ve installed (as part of a new office development in Old Street, London) looks great. Some might say I would say that as I designed them. But I’m not biased, I’m passionate. Be it one of my living walls, a green roof, a community garden or any other type of urban greening, it’s not just about it looking great. Urban greening is important for many reasons.

Urban greening refers to public landscaping and urban forestry projects that create mutually beneficial relationships between city dwellers and their environments.

The Mayor of London and the London Assembly wants to significantly increase the area of green cover in the built environment. The London Environment Strategy includes policies and proposals that aim to ensure that more than half of London will be green by 2050 and the city’s tree canopy cover increases by 10%.

London is a growing city. By 2050 it is expect that up to 3 million more people will live there. A well planned and managed green infrastructure network will be vital to help the city stay healthy and liveable as the population becomes larger. It will also help the city adapt as the climate changes and we experience hotter, dryer summers and more extreme downpours.

The Mayor’s new London Plan includes policies that protect the city’s best green spaces and natural areas. However, the pressures on land for the good quality homes, schools, hospitals and places of work which we need, means there will be few opportunities to create more traditional parks and nature reserves as the city grows. London must therefore become greener whilst also becoming denser. To meet this challenge new developments will need to include more green roofs, walls and other urban greening. Existing buildings, streets and public realm will need to become greener too.

Green roofs and walls are an essential component of a greener, denser city especially in those areas which have historically had a deficiency in parks and green spaces. They can help store stormwater, provide additional wildlife habitat, or, increasingly, create greener public realm or roof gardens above our busy streets.

My hope is that the living walls we are installing right now will contribute to the wellbeing of future tenants for many years to come. My dream is that we get the chance to install many more living walls in cities across the UK.

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Old Street

So, this week the whole team gathered in London to install our latest living wall. It’s part of a stunning roof garden designed by the talented John Davies. I’ve worked with John on a number of projects over the last few years (all rather lovely) but this one has shot straight to number 1 in the fabulous garden charts! If you happen to find yourself walking past St Lukes Church (located mid way along London’s Old Street) then look up and you’ll see the wall… Next up we move down five floors to the external basement area where we’re installing an even bigger wall, which is all very exciting (if a little daunting).

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Pretty as a picture (or three)

This week I visited a project we installed in Highgate earlier this year to run some maintenance. The scheme involves five living walls, sat amongst slatted timber work, that act to transform the front garden. My personal favourite are the set of three small living walls that run along the southern boundary of the space and are framed like a set of large living paintings. Watching them sway in the gentle breeze on a sunny autumn day is a thing of joy. I am not so keen on the aesthetics of the Tesla charger but anything that is good for the planet is fine my me.

Will

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Oops, sorry

Despite his best intentions to write a blog every week this year Adam got distracted over the summer by the mountain of work we have had to deal with. Well that is what he says. Personally I suspect the amazing weather and gorgeous Devon beaches may have had something to do with it. This photo is of the beach that is about half a mile from our nursery. Hmm….

Will

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Kenway Nurseries

When creating our living walls we use a huge number of plants. Hundreds, turn into thousands quite easily. One supplier that deserves a mention is Jason Kenway. The plants I get from his nursery, Kenway Nurseries are always excellent. The effort that must go into producing such large quantities of plants whilst maintaining such a high standard is impressive. Their plants now account for around 75% of the stock we use in our living walls and I think they look great. In this section of living wall, you can see another fabulous Persicaria (P. microcephaly ‘Purple Fantasy’) fighting it’s way through a mass of soleirolia soleirolii, along with Acorus gramineus ‘Variegates’ and a handful of Viola odorata ‘Königin Charlotte’ and some wonderful (still yet to flower) Dierama pulcherrimum.

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Persicaria campanulata 'Madame Jigard'

Persicaria are commonly known as knotweeds. Personally, I think the weed part of it’s common name is a bit unfortunate as they are far from being weeds. I love almost all varieties of Persicaria and most are readily available but P. campanula ‘Madame Jigard’ is not an easy plant to find let alone buy. It’s rarely offered for sale, which I suspect is likely to change quite quickly as it’s a fantastic form of this genus. Native to the Himalayas, it’s a semi-evergreen perennial with a distinctive reddish-bronze, centre vein in the leaves. It’s stems remind me of gnarly fingers, with multiple knuckles and joints along it’s length. Once it gets a foothold, it seems to grow fairly quickly, putting out leaves at a fairly decent pace. Apparently it flowers all summer, but this is my first season working with this beauty, so I have yet to witness how long it actually flowers for here in sunny Devon. So far it’s performed brilliantly, loving the moist surroundings of our living walls or in this case one of my new living spheres. This particular Persicaria has just shot straight to the top of my go-to plants list.

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The professionals

Working with professionals that really know what they’re doing is always a pleasure. John Davies is an excellent garden designer and The Garden Builders have executed his designs perfectly. We’ve created a number of living walls for John over the last few years and think that this is probably one of our best. Thanks to the excellent planning and an easy working relationship with both John and The Garden Builders this job was delivered on time and without issue. We are delighted with how the wall looks and know for a fact that the client is too! Please follow this link to see lots more images of this fabulous garden.

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Around we go...

Ideas are all around us. Personally I find they dance around inside my head and drift across my subconscious mind like clouds. Often, like a dream, they fade when I wake, but sometimes they stick and solidify in my minds eye. Then I can feel the idea growing.

For years I’ve been pondering how to create a living surface that’s not 2D and flat but 3D, with depth and possibly movement. Time and again it was a ball, globe or sphere like shape I seemed to gravitate towards. Now, I know how to create living walls, but a living sphere, that’s a bit harder. Then one day a few months ago, I literally work up from a dream and bingo... my subconscious mind had worked it out for me.

So, over the last few months I’ve been working in my new nursery developing my idea, and this is the result. My living sphere. This is no short term hanging basket for the summer months, this is botanical ball of perennial plants that, just like my living walls will develop and grow over years and last for decades if maintained correctly.

Like my hydroponic living walls they will be automatically watered (and so fed) keeping maintenance to a minimum and like my living walls they will hopefully delight, entertain and facinate all those that enjoy the beauty of the botanical world. I’m delighted with the result and I hope some of you out there will like them as much as I do.

The spheres will come in several sizes, S, M, L, XL (and possibly an XXL for those with commercial size spaces). Please email us to register your interest in ordering one of our original living spheres.

mailto:info@thelandscapearchitect.net

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Grand Designs

It’s always nice to see our work in print, so thank you Andrea Manley for including some of our projects in your article on green roofs and living walls in this months issue of Grand Designs magazine. The article features an image from the very first wall I created in Hackney, London back in 2009 . The living wall was part of what turned out to be a pretty amazing roof garden that featured a glass bottomed pool, polished concrete fire pit and of course, the ultimate accessory, a fully stocked bar!

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