In need of a new way of brightening up a boring wall? Look no further than vertical planting.

Herts Advertiser: A green backdrop can make a massive impactA green backdrop can make a massive impact (Image: Archant)

Traditionally, greening up a wall meant using wires or trellis to provide a framework for climbing plants. We still use this to create naturalistic schemes festooned in scented Clematis, honeysuckle, roses and Jasmine but over the past few years a new technique has taken hold; the vertical green wall. This is where perennials and shrubs are planted in ‘pockets’ in what could be described as a vertical ‘hanging basket’ to create a living ‘wall hanging’.

By not using climbing plants that naturally want to climb and ramble in a very freeform manner, a much more defined and designed scheme can be created. With careful selection of plants a green wall is something that will look good all through the year.

Herts Advertiser: Shade tolerant walls usually provide the best coverage and textureShade tolerant walls usually provide the best coverage and texture (Image: Archant)

Vertical green walls are being used in many different situations, both residential and commercial. In commercial applications they can be used to provide huge green backdrops to retail areas, such as the wall at the Westfield shopping centre in west London, hotels, or even the much visited Olympic site.

On a smaller residential scale the walls work equally well and can be a breath of life to a town garden where space is at a premium. Basement light-wells are transformed from dark dingy voids to bright green living spaces.

The walls can also be used internally (with a palette of houseplants) which can then be extended outside with exterior plants. This works very well with modern glass extensions or large bi-fold doors.

Herts Advertiser: A green wall can add a point of interest to a small gardenA green wall can add a point of interest to a small garden (Image: Archant)

Shade tolerant walls often provide the best coverage and texture: Epimedium, Ajuga, Bergenia, Tiarella, Ferns and Hosta are a good mix to start with in a green wall. They are predominantly green in colour but such wildly different shades of green can create a tonal scheme very pleasing all on its own.

If colour is your thing then Heuchera, Viola and Cyclamen can be added to the basic scheme for patches of impact, be it in the form of leaves or flowers, and if maintenance is not an issue then the wild and bold colours of Begonia rex varieties can be added seasonally for a really punchy colour scheme.

Herts Advertiser: A green wall can add character to a town gardenA green wall can add character to a town garden (Image: Archant)

All plants require water and green walls are no exception. As a designer I will always specify the plants I require as well as the layout of the wall, but this scheme is then passed over to a specialist to grow on, install, irrigate and maintain.

A green wall is truly a thing of beauty and can extend the season of interest in a small town garden right the way through the year as well as into the hours of darkness when the walls can be lit or designed to be combined with moving water to create something beautiful in what might have been a very difficult space.

Kate Gould is an award winning garden designer with more than a decade’s hands-on experience transforming gardens of all sizes and a regular exhibitor at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show where she has been awarded three Gold medals.

Herts Advertiser: Thumbs up for a fashion-forward gardenThumbs up for a fashion-forward garden (Image: Archant)

Garden trends uncovered

So your vertical planting’s all sorted, but what about the rest of your great outdoors? St Albans garden designer Jane Thomas tells us what’s hot in the garden this summer

* Outdoor living rooms: fire pits, sofas, and lighting to extend use into the evening are all big news. People are thinking differently about outdoor furniture, too – not just tables and chairs for dining, but areas for relaxing, like deep seating with cushions around a fireplace.

* There’s a move towards porcelain tiles outside, rather than paving slabs. There are crisp, sharp lines to floor surfaces, again bringing the inside outside.

* Lighting schemes are becoming increasingly popular. LED technology is getting better and the controller can be worked using a smart phone or iPad. There are loads of different lights to choose from.

* Rain water is becoming more important, and rainwater harvesting is being incorporated via rain water features.

* There’s been a move away from formal gardens to a more wild, naturalistic look. It’s more about wildflower turf borders and naturalistic planting, and less about traditional bedding displays or full on border displays.