The bright red container stood out amongst the myriad of greens as I wandered around the beautiful Carlton gardens just before the garden show opened on the first day. The modified shipping container was a centrepiece for the display by The University of Melbourne that showcased their research into green infrastructure and the ways this technology can be combined with vegetation to maximise environmental and social benefits.
The display was made up of four parts. The urban forest which emphasises the way trees and shrubs can be used to increase canopy and thus help to keep cities cool and generally increase green space in urban areas. The second and my favourite part was the green roof. One of the most beautiful and interesting green roofs I have ever seen. These roofs reduce stormwater run off and cool the building below, in this case the shipping container. But this one was constructed from modules that were planted with flowering perennials, giving the effect of a meadow in bloom. Pretty and practical.
Green walls were created using succulents, as well as herbs and vegies planted into pockets hung from the wall. The second type of green wall was created by growing climbing plants up specialised trellises. Both these types of living walls not only look great but also act to cool hot and reflective spaces.
Another favourite was the vegetable rain garden. These are vegetable gardens that mostly rely on the runoff from the roof to keep the plants alive and thriving. These not only reduce run off into our drains but also make use of small, out of the way spaces to grow produce.
Even with good pictures, I know there is not much use telling you about this display garden when you can no longer go and look at it, but the great news is that if you are interested in creating any of these types of gardens, the team that put this garden together, and has been researching these gardens for the last four years, have put out a free, downloadable electronic guide. The Growing Green Guide: A guide to green roofs, walls and facades in Melbourne and Victoria is the end result of a project by The University of Melbourne and the Inner Melbourne Action Plan, funded by the Victorian State Government.
For more information and to download the Guide, go to the Growing Green Guide website. Although much of the plant information is for cooler climates, the technical information is universal. There are some lovely inspirational pictures of green roofs and walls from all over the world, and 130 pages of knowledgeable and comprehensive text.
By: Penny Woodward
First published: April 2014