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Vertical garden livens

Vertical gardening has arrived. Inventive vertical plant compositions are popping up. Raia-based Peter Carvalho, one of the few people engaged in vertical gardens in Goa is creating them in villas, flats and hotels, writes Michael Fisher.It combines inspirations from landscaping, architecture, interior design and even to beautify or cover sewage streams and drains by floating gardens or “botancy” as his daughter calls it. Carvalho, a BE Electrical Engineer, deliberated that even his 0.1 per cent of saving Goa’s environment which is being destroyed by the present construction boom would make him feel contented by his contribution in making Goa go green, this was in the year 2010.

Today, Carvalho has not only proved them wrong, he has also conceptualized various artistic models at an affordable rate of Rs400 a square foot.  He has created vertical garden on the wall for people living in apartments and instead of building a concrete wall he has built a vertical garden that substitutes the wall.  “It was a concept that evolved in Europe mainly for people living in limited space,” he says. But it has become more than just gardens adding beauty and aesthetic to the environment in buildings and homes.

Vertical gardens are a whole new way of going green. Its origin can be traced to the Hanging Garden of Babylon in 600 BC. Patrick Blanc a French botanist and Stanley Hart of US are credited in developing the concept in the late 1980s.

There are two main categories of green walls: green façades and living walls.  Green façades are made up of creeping plants either growing directly on a wall or on specially designed supporting structures. The plant shoot system grows up the side of the building while being rooted in the ground.

With a living wall the modular panels are often made of stainless steel containers, geo-textiles, irrigation systems, a growing medium and vegetation.             Freestanding walls are most commonly used indoors and are most easily changed or changing the plants. There are three types of growth media used in living walls: loose media, mat media and structural media.

There are three method of designing vertical gardens: The fixed method or the panel type, the variable method or the hanging type and the horizontal method or the box panel type. He explains that in the panel type planters (pots) are inserted or fixed. This panel is then fixed to the surface which can either be a wall or a metal frame. Here the spacing between two plants is constant. The plants used here are normally smaller in size or ones that do not grow very tall. Mostly ferns, non-flowering plants, begonia, lanta, plumbageetc are used.

In the variable type or the hanging type the planters (pots) are hung on metals rails supported by metal props. The spacing is adjusted depending on the size and type of the plants used and spacing required as per the client’s needs.

In horizaontal method the plants are grown in geo-textile bags and placed horizontal in a box panel. The growing media consists of a soil prepared by using coco peat, coco brick, neem power, bone mill, rice husk mixed with small amount of thermocol pieces which create lacuna of air for the roots to breath.

The whole system is drip irrigated and can be control either manually or fully automated. The cost is roughly varies between Rs 400 and Rs 500 a sqft with the drip irrigation systems but excludes the cost of the plants.

Plants selection include Syngoniums, Marble Money Plant, Cryptanthus, Ophiphogon are few of the indoor plants that require less light and more water. Whereas exterior plants are chosen based on climate zone: Lantana, Rohea, Duranta are few of the outdoors plants that are commonly used which require more light and less water.

Hotels and restaurants are looking at it with a different perspective of leafy vegetable garden and strawberries fruits growing in the outdoor.  The natural aroma is permeated around.

This is the most inspiring innovativeness of urban-friendly way of greening the space around us, he boasts. The vertical arrangement of plants naturally removes toxins and unhealthy contaminants from the air that we breathe. The place becomes a complete ecosystem or a simple configuration of plants to decontaminate urban environments. Living walls are both indoor and outdoor. This natural environment shows the power of transforming domestic spaces with vertical gardening.

Some of Carvalho’s prestigious projects include a premium residence in Aldeia de Goa, residence at Dona Paula, a holiday home Mobar, a garden with the inscription 25 done for his neighbour who completed 25 year of priesthood.

Carvalho who graduated to BE Electrical in 1989 from Farmagudi left for Bombay to pursue his livelihood with the dream that Bombay was the Mackenna’s Gold. He worked as a Hardware engineer and a Software Applicator for a number of companies.

While I was attending the ACETECH (architectural, construction and engineering) event held in Bombay, I visited HR Johnsons stall displaying wooden flooring under the brand name Woodenza which was outsourcing from Germany and they were searching for a business partner or distributor in Goa.

I took their offer and invested Rs 30,000 to set up the dealership business in Margao. The business was named Maderia (a Portuguese word for wood) and on November 10, 2012 the shop was inaugurated by then Chief Minister Mr Parrikar. Thereafter there was no looking back.

All my wooden flooring is imported and is FSC certified (meaning for every one tree that is cut it is mandatory to grow three or more trees in its place by the manufacturer).

Later I realised that the wet waste generated at homes can be used as compose for gardening but this concept works well in the village. Whereas in the city for the lack of space even for a few flower pots space is not available, so the best alternative is vertical garden. Now only the sky is the limit. We could have gardens in public places like hospital, schools, government establishment and in your house he says.

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