Category: Indoor Plants

September 20th, 2013 by Mark Laurence

I launched my newsletter this week on vertical greening, sending it out to clients and those who’d signed up here or on the website.  From the number of views and feedback, (considerably higher than industry standards) I’d say it was a success!  The aim is to inform interested parties of news and developments in the field of vertical greening.

Don’t miss the next issue – sign up using the form on the right!

newsletter

Posted in Arboriculture, Biophilia, Design, Dubai, UAE, Environment, Indoor Plants, living walls, Retail, Sustainability, Vertical Greening Tagged with: , , ,

September 9th, 2013 by Mark Laurence

A new wall has just been installed at the Aveda Institute at High Holborn.  An unusual design, it is a column wrap-around, which gives some design and technical challenges.

green wall at Aveda by MLD Greenwall_Aveda-0002

Because it was not possible to retrofit drainage into the building (a common problem when buildings are not owned by the occupiers), a recurculating, tank-based system was designed.  Normally, water is not recirculated in a green wall because the addition of nutrients (usually injected into the water-flow) would cause a build-up of excess mineral salts and create chemical burn to the foliage.  This system avoids those problems and solves the drainage issue.

A selection of plants has been chosen which will adapt to the existing light levels, which are low on the face away from the windows. Feedback from staff and visitors has been incredibly positive!

A second wall, also a column wrap, has been commissioned for Aveda at their outlet in Libertys, Regent Street.

Note: final trim detail to be added at the time these pictures were taken.

Posted in Biophilia, Design, Indoor Plants, living walls, Retail Tagged with: , , , , ,

September 1st, 2013 by Mark Laurence

I came across some interesting vertical greening at Borough Market recently, in a glazed atrium/entrance space called the Market Hall which served as a place for people to relax, sit and eat.

Borough_Market-1

Hop Plants in containers

Hop Plants in containers

The plants were obviously chosen for their connections with food, so the climbers were hops (used mostly for beer making) and there were an array of edibles in pots which spiraled up around metal columns; mind you, I wouldn’t like the job of watering, as there did not appear to be any automatic irrigation fitted.  Olive trees were fitted into various seating units.

It made for a lively space and was an created in conjunction with Natural England and Bankside Urban Forest.  I will be interested to see how the hops will do over time, not being in a fully outdoor environment, and I imagine they will still lose their leaves during winter, as it is (I presume) an unheated space.  It always has to be accepted that plants used in close urban environments might be shorter-lived and require more care than in more natural circumstance, but I think that just goes with urban living.

A great initiative, let’s see more such spaces where people get close contact and interaction with plants.

Posted in Biophilia, Edible Planting, Indoor Plants, Sustainability Tagged with: , , , ,

August 30th, 2013 by Mark Laurence

A new green wall I designed has been put up in the HQ of Lend Lease at the Elephant & Castle, London.  It is situated in the company’s main reception foyer.

lend-lease_green_wall-2 lend-lease_green_wall-3

It consists of a variety of plants in loosely vertical banding, including Begonias, Peperomia and Phlebodium (Blue Ferns). Everyone seems very pleased with it! The system and installation was by Biotecture.

An outdoor wall has also been installed on the hoarding of a Lend Lease building site just across the road, the plant design is a simple repeating matrix.  Plants include Pachysandra, Tiarella, Liriope and Euonymus.

The outdoor green wall on hoarding at Elephant & Castle

The outdoor green wall on hoarding at Elephant & Castle

Posted in Biophilia, Indoor Plants, living walls Tagged with: , , , , ,

August 24th, 2013 by Mark Laurence

I’ve got to admit it; plants do something to me.  When in their proximity, either indoors or out, things feel different.  It could be because they change the air, giving me oxygen, removing pollutants and humidifying the atmosphere.  It could be because they give me a subtle but direct contact with Nature.  Maybe they talk to me; I don’t know.  But I know I can’t live without them, and that too many people do just that; they don’t know what they’re missing.

Plant shelve in my office

Plant shelves in my office

Of course, I should have a green wall in my office and will have soon, for a new design I am prototyping.  But shelves will do, as will window ledges, if not in direct sun.  My shelves are beside a window, which is often actually the darkest place in a room.  To illustrate, I have several Tradescantia, of a variety called simply “Dark Green”.  One sits on the window sill and one on the shelf corner almost next to it, a mere 450mm away.  Yet the one on the window sill (West facing) is compact, fully dark green with purple undersides, whilst the other is leggier with larger leaves and less purple.  a quick test with a umol meter (which reads the light that plants “see”) shows that the window plant receives  (this morning on a dull day) a reading of 74, whilst the other plant gets a mere 20.  Come to the far end of the shelf and the reading drops to 03, leaving the plants, effectively, in the dark. Many plants can (amazingly) survive these conditions, but they will not be photosynthetically active and so not delivering the benefits I outlined above.  And of course, they can’t be happy.  So lighting is crucial, yet is a surprisingly difficult thing to fix.  Good fittings and bulbs not intended for greenhouse production are a rare thing.

It is worth mentioning, that what we call houseplants are simply plants that originate in sub-tropical regions and can tolerate the conditions found inside many buildings, such as low light levels, because many of the plants are from forest origins, low nutrient requirements and constant temperatures (little or no seasonal variation in the original home).  Low humidity can be the biggest problem, especially with central heating or in air-conditioned offices.

"inddor" plants on a green wall

“indoor” plants on a green wall

So given the right conditions (and even with a bit of light-abuse), plants will thrive indoors and ultimately, a green wall is the best way to display them, for several reasons: you get a huge area of leaf mass index in a small footprint, giving the maximum amount of benefit, whilst watering and feeding is automated, so you don’t have to worry about that.  The only problem with green walls is that they are expensive, and they need plumbing in to drainage, water and electrical supplies.  I’m about to change all that, so watch this space.

And there are so many plants to grow, although sadly, finding a good source of houseplants, outside of the standard ranges supplied by supermarkets and the larger garden centres, is surprisingly difficult.  Almost all come from the Netherlands these days.  Dibleys are an exception and good for gnesneriads (www.dibleys.com).  In my Biotecture days I had walls of plants being trialed, all gone now and I miss them, but I plan to resume trialing again soon, on a similar scale and have many new plants to test.  They excite me more than (almost) anything, and especially when I think we’re getting ecosystem services from them – but that is the subject for another post, other than the brief mention I gave above.

So do yourself a favour, rediscover your biophilic urges, give yourself a treat and buy some houseplants!

Posted in Biophilia, Ecosystem Services, Indoor Plants, living walls Tagged with: , , , ,