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Gadgets & Home Improvement

My growing wonderwall

Vertical gardens have bloomed in popularity
The Straits Times - December 10, 2011
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My growing wonderwall Mrs Doreen Yap spent $4,000 on her vertical garden. -- ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

A need for privacy and a hankering for the greenery she loves so much led retiree Doreen Yap, 69, to install a vertical garden - even if it did cost a blooming $4,000.

The green wall at the terrace house in Thomson Garden Estate of this former administrator and science teacher, who has a degree in botany, is filled with around 10 plant species. They include begonias, bird's nest ferns and maiden's hair ferns.

The plants even include some she picked up from the roadside and nurtured in pots before transplanting them. The garden, covering about 5 sq m and rising to 1.5m in height, was put up more than a year ago. Mrs Yap had missed the garden that she once owned at her old place in Seletar Hills. 'I wanted to make the carpark porch more green and give it the atmosphere of a garden,' she says.

She spent about $4,000 on the initial outlay, including installation and a self-irrigation system. She also pays $60 for a large bottle of liquid nutrients every two months.

Installed by Vertical Green (, the structure consists of a swath of felt carpeting material with pockets where the plants are placed. It is watered five times a day via tubing connected to a water point.

Landscape designer Darren Neo says: 'There is a very low concrete wall between her house and her neighbour's, and she wanted more privacy. So we had to mount a galvanised steel bracket on the wall itself, which extends upwards and install the garden on the bracket, which provides stability so that it doesn't flap when the wind blows.'

Half of Mrs Yap's wall is lush with growth, while the plants on the other half are shorter and not as full. In the initial stages, some plants died off. The mother of three and grandmother of five says that as her house faces south-west, the wall opposite the garden gets the full setting sun. This results in half the wall receiving only reflected light.

'I had to select plants for the inner half of the wall that do not require as much sunlight. It was a bit of trial and error, as I would go to nurseries and ask for these plants,' says Mrs Yap.

She adds that the vertical garden requires little maintenance: 'Being a retiree, I do travel quite a bit, and even if I have to go away, it's self-maintaining as I don't have to physically water it.'



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