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Pittsburgh-based botanical garden adds vertical garden display for visitors
Jill Odom | October 30, 2017
livewall at phipps vertical garden

Photo: LiveWall

The Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has utilized LiveWall’s green wall system to showcase the possibilities of vertical gardening.

The conservatory was founded in 1893 and has served as a leader in sustainability, conservation and green building design among public gardens.

Phipps strives to promote human and environmental well-being and one of the latest methods it has been pursuing is the support of growing local produce in urban areas. The botanical garden offers various programs to youth and adults on the benefits of raised bed vegetable gardening, local food production and healthy eating.

“Limited space is a significant challenge for urban gardening,” said Michael Bechtel, display horticulturist for Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. “With our green walls, we have the opportunity to study, evaluate and learn about growing edibles on space-efficient vertical gardens. This forward-thinking approach enables Phipps to offer education and assistance to homeowners, schools, and community organizations on planning, installing, and maintaining their own green walls so that they can benefit from fresh produce.”

Phipps Conservatory vertical garden

Photo: Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Phipps sponsors Homegrown, its outreach program that increases community access to fresh produce and since 2013 it has helped establish more than 200 vegetable gardens in urban areas.

In 2015, the botanical garden tested out LiveWall Inspire Living Wall Panels along with several other living wall systems on its south facing wall of the Production Greenhouse Facility. After the initial testing was complete, Phipps installed nine more Inspire panels.

LiveWall was chosen thanks to its soil volume and depth for growing, its integrated irrigation system and durability, according to Bechtel. The Inspire standard panels are four feet wide and seven feet, four inches tall. Each has 24 modular planting boxes.

“Green walls, also known as living walls, are structural and horticultural systems that attach to existing walls and transform them into vertical gardens,” said Dave MacKenzie, president of LiveWall. “Growing vegetables and herbs on its green wall display is an innovative way for Phipps to demonstrate how families and community groups can grow their own fresh, healthy produce even if they do not have areas for large garden plots.”

The vertical wall display will feature beets, carrots, collard greens, kale and kohlrabi growing in the spring and in the summer, it will include basil, rosemary, thyme, celery root and various peppers.

vertical vegetable garden

Photo: Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

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