Think Vertical… Up, Up, and Display!

by on May 24, 2019 · 3 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Kathy Blavatt

All Photos by Kathy Blavatt

There is an art to vertical gardening. The vertical growing process starts out as an ascetic design project combined with a floral display, a living canvas that adds beauty to garden plots, trees, fences and walls.

Creative design of floral arrangements and vertical garden displays use the same important principles in terms of shapes, colors, texture, design, and function.

A colorful array of flowers and plants of various shapes and textures form a heart from Kathy’s garden.

Many people create vertical gardens to make good use of their space. It is a wonderful way to display or get more plants into your garden, patio, business, or house.

When you look closely in my yard, you realize there are about as many varieties of vertical growing plants as horizontal ones growing on the grown. I am a master at the technique of “How to cram a lot of plants in a yard!”

Expenses can be kept down if you search for recycled and garage sale treasures that could hold and frame vertical garden pieces. Candle displays, wood pallets, baskets, stackable and hanging pots are a few of my favorite plant containers and holders.

Wrought iron fencing, railings, window bars, and decorative metal work are great for holding climbing plants, heavy large plants, and a variety of plants.

A big advantage of vertical garden is the water savings. Vertically-multi-layers plants allow for the water to drip down through from one plant to the next, much like forests. Permaculture techniques mimic the patterns and relationships that we can find in nature.

Yard emulations a forest.

Hanging baskets of flowering plants and succulents among other plants and in trees provides beauty. Shade loving plants such as bromeliads, especially air ferns and Spanish moss, love to nestle on pieces of bark or driftwood in trees.

Hanging baskets of succulents among other plants.

In designing my garden, I thought about how rainforests interact with layers of plants entwined with trees in an ecosystem that thrives as it stretches out both horizontal and vertically. Seeds and branches drop or blow upwards bring new life as they propagate in the rich habitation.

My yard, with the help of the rain, is in many ways like a miniature rain forest. Due to this year’s heavy ongoing rains, seeds I had plant years ago came up sprouted, and plants I thought had died years ago sprang to life.

My vertical reaching dragon fruit, passion fruit vines and a tall tangelo tree are at the beginning of the intertwining stage battle for territory. Do I let them go to the next stage of “jungle jumble?” Or do I trim them apart? Will they thrive or kill one another off? Sounds like the makings of an “Avengers” movie, with the plants turning into plant super heroes and villains….

The villainous Dragonman lobs his exploding dragon-fruit at the at the heroes, while the Red Passion spreads her sweet fruits smell over the realm putting her foes into a catatonic state of amore saving the garden!

Back to reality, the real heroes in my garden are the pollinators who seem to be fond of my vertical habitat that gives them a buffet of flowers to choose from. The bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and a host of winged creatures make their way from the garden floor to the treetops while enjoying the surprise treats that a vertical landscape offers.

Vertical gardens are like giant galleries that provide opportunities for creative expression. Much like watercolors, the plants create unexpected “happy surprises.” The advantage of a garden is that it is not fixed on canvas that is stagnant. Seasons, weather conditions, additional plants and decorative elements, along with human interaction and care, make the garden an everchanging palate.

Cactus in a hanging basket is a nice contrast to the flowers.

The advantage of having a garden go vertical is that you can add texture and color through the plants you use. You can even use the trees to nest plants among the branches, grow greenery in hanging pots, or ground plants below trees where they have shade and protection from some of the elements.

Next time you want to add new plants, or rearrange ones you have, think vertical.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

sealintheSelkirks May 24, 2019 at 10:14 pm

These are beautiful! I’m sending the link to an old friend who has been slowly building a huge backyard and front yard urban space in SLC. She’ll love this. Thank you for the pictures!



Michael May 25, 2019 at 10:13 pm

I don’t support increased density of any kind!

… Kidding, your plants are beautiful. I always appreciate the landscaping around OB. Some folks do it better than others;)


Val Paradiz March 2, 2020 at 8:20 pm

Hi Kathy and Ray,
It’s Val Paradiz. Steve Edelson and I were married working together when I lived n SD and knew you both. I’m visiting SD now and will be in OB tomorrow for a few hours with my partner Tom (a musician) and good friends who live in PB (March 3). Would love to see you both if you’re free and around. I’m not sure if I’ll reach you this way, but I couldn’t find your email addresses. Sending warm warm wishes, Val


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