Up the Wall: A Brief History of Vertical Gardening in England

green hill with grass and trees

If you’ve ever walked through the bustling streets of London, you may have noticed that space is at a premium. With such a high population density, it’s no wonder that the concept of vertical gardening has become so popular. In fact, the practice has been around for centuries, with early examples dating back to medieval times. So, let’s dive into the history of vertical gardening in England and see how it has evolved over the years.

The Early Days of Vertical Gardening

Vertical gardening can be traced back to the Babylonians and their impressive Hanging Gardens, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. However, in England, the practice can be found as far back as the medieval period, where it was used to adorn the walls of monasteries and castles.

One of the most famous examples of vertical gardening from this time is the garden at Warwick Castle, which dates back to the 14th century. The garden featured a variety of plants and was designed to be both beautiful and functional, providing fresh herbs and vegetables for the castle’s inhabitants.

As time passed, vertical gardening became less common, and it wasn’t until the 19th century that it started to make a comeback.

The Victorian Era

During the Victorian era, vertical gardening became a symbol of status among the wealthy families, who commissioned gardeners to create stunning displays on their estate walls. In addition to being a statement of wealth, vertical gardening was also a practical way to maximize limited growing space. The use of cast-iron balconies and trellises for climbing plants also became popular, and many of these structures can still be seen today in historic buildings throughout England.

The Green Wall at Kew Gardens, built in 1844, was one of the most impressive and innovative examples of vertical gardening from the Victorian era. Designed by architect Richard Turner, the wall was the first of its kind, featuring a variety of ferns, ivies, and other plants. At 27 feet high and 328 feet long, the wall was a stunning display of horticultural engineering and remains a popular attraction at Kew Gardens today. The wall also served as a testing ground for new plant species, as well as a model for other green walls around the world. The wall has since been replaced at the garden.

The Modern Era

In the 20th century, vertical gardening became more popular among city-dwellers who wanted to create their own green spaces in small apartments and homes. This led to the development of new techniques and technologies, such as hydroponics and aeroponics, which allowed for plants to grow without soil and with limited space.

Today, vertical gardening is popular among people from all walks of life, from urbanites to suburbanites, and it can be found in a range of different spaces, from homes and offices to public parks and urban spaces.

Garden in The Mall with London Eye

Benefits of Vertical Gardening

The benefits of vertical gardening are numerous, from its ability to beautify spaces to its ability to produce fresh, organic produce in limited space. Here are just a few of the benefits:

  • Space-saving: Vertical gardening allows you to grow more plants in a smaller space, making it perfect for urban areas where space is limited.
  • Improved air quality: Plants absorb carbon dioxide and other pollutants, improving the air quality in your home or office.
  • Reduced stress: Studies have shown that spending time around plants can reduce stress and improve mood.
  • Cost-effective: Growing your own produce can save you money on groceries, and vertical gardening can allow you to grow more produce in a smaller space.

Tips for Vertical Gardening

If you’re interested in trying out vertical gardening for yourself, here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Choose the right plants: Not all plants are suitable for vertical gardening, so make sure to choose plants that are known to grow well in this type of environment.
  • Provide adequate support: Make sure that your vertical garden has adequate support, whether that’s a trellis, netting, or a dedicated wall structure.
  • Water regularly: Plants in vertical gardens may require more water than those grown in traditional gardens, so make sure to monitor the moisture level and water your plants regularly.
  • Consider lighting: Make sure your vertical garden is getting enough sunlight or provide artificial light if needed.
  • Be mindful of weight: If you’re planning to create a large vertical garden, make sure to consider the weight and load capacity of the structure you’re using.
  • Get creative: Vertical gardening can be a great opportunity to get creative and experiment with different plant arrangements and structures.

Vertical gardening has a rich history in England, dating back to the medieval period and evolving over the centuries. From the grand estates of the Victorian era to the modern-day urban spaces, vertical gardening has proved to be a practical and beautiful way to bring greenery into limited spaces. With its numerous benefits, it’s no wonder that vertical gardening is becoming more and more popular among gardeners and plant enthusiasts today. So, why not give it a try and see what kind of beautiful and functional garden you can create on your own walls?

Garden in The Mall with London Eye by Christine Matthews is licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0

Leave a Reply