Cameron Village is hip and alive with lots of good things, but have you seen their living art? That art is hot!
I travel through Cameron Village most days as I go about my daily errands. These journeys are enhanced as I turn to look, not at the latest window dressings in a storefronts, although that happens next, but at the living art hanging on the walls.
I interviewed Leslie Herndon, Senior Client Relations Manager and Floriculturist with Greenscapes Inc., the design and landscaping company for the grounds at Cameron Village, to get the skinny on these living treasures.
How is did the idea come about to add vertical gardens on the walls at Cameron Village?
We discovered the system we are currently using at a industry event and thought is was a great way to introduce living art to the Triangle. Cameron Village has always been very progressive in introducing new trends to the market and we immediately thought of them when we were looking for a trial location for our first wall. Being a walking centered shopping area, they loved the idea that people could interact with art and plants at the same time. We encourage people to stop and touch. They have created such a buzz in the Village that they continue to find new spaces to add these!
How many are there?
We will have a total of 6 living walls out there this summer including a free standing wall by Duxiana! We also have 6 living walls at Pinecrest Plaza in Pinehurst as well. The Pinehurst walls are permanent walls and will only have minor changes for the summer season.
What inspired your designs?
Lately I have been inspired by more geometrical abstract shapes. I love color and have always been influenced by artist like Monet. How we mix shapes and colors to create a fluid garden art is key to the success of the program. We also take special requests from clients. This year our client at Cameron Village requested a purple ribbon as a dedication to victims of Domestic Violence this summer as well as having our free standing wall done in the style similar to Andy Warhol! I love to change up our designs every season so it is fresh and different for our clients. So you never know where my inspiration will come from next. I am traveling to California and Ireland this summer so maybe I will pick up some inspiration there!
For people who want to create something similar at home, please share the materials used to create these gardens.
Are the plant bases (the hanging trays) available retail? Where can they be found?
We purchase ours wholesale but there are several retail versions on the market. The best option would be to go to Google Search and enter the word Grovert. I have not seen any available locally at the garden centers so online is the way to go.
Do you use a special potting soil?
The greenhouse we utilize to grow these out supplies their own custom potting mix to fill the walls. They combined their fern potting mix with their standard annual flower potting mix to get the right combination for us. Weight is critical in these walls. The mix contains bark, perlite, vermiculite and peat. If you are doing these at home I would take standard potting mix and lighten it up slightly by adding some or all of the above.
How do you water and how often?
In the winter we water 2 or 3 times a week depending on the weather. However in the heat of summer we may water daily. It really depends on the exposure of the wall and the weather. We have designed our own drip systems on these walls in order to facilitate watering. Our walls in Pinehurst are hooked directly to a drip line while our Cameron Village walls have to be handwatered as there is no drip available.
Do you fertilize?
Oh yes! These get fertilized just about every 2-3 weeks. We are watering them so much and the soil tray is so small that constant feeding is necessary.
Do you prune or pinch back?
Yes, these require VERY regular pruning. Because they are more living art than gardens, we treat them as such. We are pruning them into specific shapes or designs in order to maintain the integrity of the art. I have found that the “grass shears” clippers with the flat sides work best for this type of pruning. We have techs that prune these weekly.
I’ve read that it’s important to plant out these gardens and let them grow for a while to get a foot-hold before you hang them. Some folks have said to do this for about a month or more. Is this true in your experience?
We do grow these out for a month or more before hanging them. Especially in spring, they need the heat of the greenhouse for those summer annuals to get growing. We like to hang these “ready to go” and that greenhouse time is critical.
Please share with us your 10 favorite plants used in vertical gardens?
Joseph’s Coat, Alternanthera ficoidea ‘Red Threads’
Alternanthera ficoidea ‘Yellow Form’
Mediterranean Vinca, Catharanthus roseus
Asparagus or Sprengeri Fern, Asparagus aethiopicus
Creeping Jenny, Lysimachia Goldi
Chenille Plant, Acalypha reptans ‘Chenile Firetails’
Coral Bells, Heuchera
Beefsteak Plant, Iresine herbstii, ‘Purple Lady’
Vinca Vine Illumination, Vinca minor ‘Illumination’
Variegated Swedish Ivy, Plectranthus coleoides
Coleus ‘Trailing Plum’
There you have it. If you get a chance, take a spin around Cameron Village and see this cool collection of vertical gardening that is living art in the heart of Raleigh.