Gardeners were green before green was in. So, naturally, they are quite literally taking the movement to new heights with lush green living walls—mounted structures that facilitate the growth of plants through pint-size pockets (for a modest effect) or show-stopping soil-free panels that stretch floor to ceiling. One such pioneering firm, EcoWalls (1200 Florence Columbus Road, Bordentown, NJ), has watched living walls bloom in popularity as homeowners search for an earthy accent for their living spaces. “The growth rate of living walls has correlated with the green building trend as people are becoming more environmentally conscious,” says Michael Coraggio, who owns the South Jersey gardening company along with ecologist Ryan Burrows. This fall the inventive pair is offering fully customizable, freestanding structures for a portable splash of green in any room.
Mary Costello, co-owner of the four-year-old City Planter (814 N. Fourth St.) in Northern Liberties, believes the trend has stemmed from an urge to beautify concrete spaces. “I think more and more people are moving back into the city, and they have small spaces. Urban gardeners are using all the space they can to bring green back in,” says Costello. By moving gardens indoors, other benefits like improved air quality and aesthetics surface. “They can add real warmth and coziness to a room,” Costello says.
When designing your own vertical garden, Curtis Alexander recommends going with shade-loving, tropical varieties for colder months. His company, Urban Jungle (1526–30 E. Passyunk Ave.), specializes in the planning and planting of green walls, and his two-yearold store is stocked with a wide range of modular systems. “People really get it once they see how easy it is to transform their urban home into a cool green scene,” he says.