top of page

Growing Up and Green

St. Luke’s Hospital’s Living Wall in Oxford, UK

Imagine you are living in the city and you notice the lack of space in your home for gardening. Perhaps you have an aloe plant or a native flower by the window, but you want to grow more to feel more connected to nature.

Vertical gardening is a space-saving solution applicable to both small and large spaces. Put simply, vertical gardening is a container type gardening that lets plants grow from the ground up instead of outwards. It’s also referred to as a living wall, biowall, or green wall.

Bay of Gardens’s flower dome and cloud forest conservatory. Photo credit to

Many cities use vertical gardening to achieve a number of goals. Botanists and technology specialists or engineers work together to create vertical gardens to achieve their goal of reducing temperatures in cities, harvesting rainwater, and of course beautifying the environment. One example of this is the living wall at St. Luke’s Hospital in Oxford, UK. In Singapore, the Garden by the Bay is a massive public park where plants cover entire structures, with the most biodiversity of any city in the world. Right here in Philadelphia, Drexel University’s biowall at the Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building showcases tropical plants growing in the absence of soil while removing from the air harmful chemicals and filter dust.

PISB Bio Wall Panorama. Photo taken by Sean Corbett

Create a vertical garden in your own home with resources on hand... bottles, boxes, pouches, hanging baskets, even ladders. If you’re new to vertical gardening, start small! With some creative space-making, transform your small space into a mini forest reaching for the sky (or the ceiling)...

A simple vertical garden using shoe organizers. Photo credit to teamobn.

By “growing up”, you are not limited to what you can grow by smaller spaces in or outside. Herbs like basil, parsley, and chives work well. For vegetables, try kale, swiss chard, peas, and cherry tomatoes. Flowers? Petunias, morning glory, and lobelias! Fruits? Go grapes, strawberries, and tomatoes! Vining plants will twine and grow up on your fences and balcony railings. Growing up, plants are less susceptible to pests and disease as compared to growing outwards and directly sown in the ground. As a bonus...vertical gardens can be low maintenance, without weeds to pluck out! Just be aware of heavier plants that need the extra support and plants that like to hog the sunlight.

Visit to view a portfolio of vertical gardening throughout the United Kingdom

Learn about the history of vertical gardening and ideas to start your own at:


Rob. “WHAT IS VERTICAL GARDENING?” Grow Green Food, 2016,

Graaff, Judith de. “VERTICAL GARDENS: WHEN CITIES GO GREEN AND GROW UP TO THE SKY.” LZF Lamps, Lzf-Lamps, 1 Aug. 2018,

Kenny, Stuart. “Singapore’s ‘Gardens of the Bay’ and Milan’s ‘Vertical Forests’ Stole the Show in Planet Earth 2.” Mpora, 12 Dec. 2016,


bottom of page