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Van Gogh Vertical Garden in London’s Trafalgar Square

Must see: For the first time ever, a painting has been brought to life and made into a living wall!  It’s exciting and it’s spectacular and when you first walk past , you might think that it’s actually a painting. But look closely – plants!!!  Anyway, this piece of art is  available for the world to see until October 2012.  So, if you’re inLondon for the Olympics, get yourself to Trafalgar Square and plant yourself in front of the wall of the National Gallery (which also has free entry) and check out this spectacular piece of living wall art.

The National Gallery together with GE selected a painting called ‘A Wheatfield, with Cypresses’. This work of art was painted by Van Gogh whilst he was a patient at the St-Remy mental asylum. Note: the original work of art is available for viewing in Room 45 of the National Gallery.  Remember, that this painting was crafted by one man in 1889. Now, to create living wall art of the same caliber and complexity using plants, a team of designers had to form together to develop a plan,  bringing the masterpiece back to life.



How they created the living wall art: To recreate the genius of Van Gogh the designers were essentially using a different medium which brought many different issues of texture and colour. They selected over 8,000 plants and used more than 26 varieties to mimic the strong bands of colour which are found in the original picture. The varieties included in the design had to match the different brush strokes and the different textures.


The designers used a Living Walling System. The system they used had 640 modules which were grown before in a nursery. A predetermined design was important to ensure that they could match the painting. Grid-like modules were used which indicated where varieties should be planted.


Once the plants had mostly grown, the individual modules were transported to London. The plants had to be put together in the right sequence to create the picture as a whole.


Within a tight timeframe of three days, the modules were then hung vertically inTrafalgar Square for the world to see the incredible living wall.


The living wall does need slight maintenance and this is carried out fortnightly throughout the UK spring and summer. The general maintenance includes visual checks of plant health, watering and pruning. However, this walling system does include an in-built irrigation system to ensure that the plants are watered regularly.



Why did they do it: The National Gallery embarked on this project to stimulate interest in its paintings. Also, the National Gallery has a commitment to being environmentally responsible and they have a plan to increase energy efficiency and reduce their carbon emissions by up to 40% within a four year period. This single but spectacular project alone is 62% of the gallery’s target emissions.



How to Find it: Travelling roundLondon head straight to Trafalgar Square. Your closet tube stations are Charring Cross /Piccadilly Circus / Leicester Square Underground station. It’s an easy walk from there!


Comments: Please send us a comment if you have seen it or if you have any questions on how you can create something like this!

DIY – Create a Living Wall in Your Home or Office

Maybe you have a small space that needs decorating? Or you live in an apartment and having a garden seems impossible? But, it’s time to dream – and now your dream can become a reality as a garden is possible in a small space. No longer are you restricted or limited to horizontal landscape designs. It’s easy to create upwards by designing your very own vertical garden. So, get creative with easy to use, simple, modern vertical wall systems. It’s time to have fun with new textures. When designing vertically you are creating something truly special –  it’s alive, it’s breathing, it’s environmentally friendly – your new stunning living wall.


Office Living Wall

Don’t be deterred by the installation process, it’s easy and with the fifteen easy steps listed below you too can create something remarkable in your home or office.  Look at the diagram below, as it helps to be able to visualise how the wall ends up being put together.





  1. Take a tape measure and determine the exact location for the metal spacers.
  2. Place the spacers vertically at each mark and screw them directly into the wall.
  3. Attach the drain trays along the bottom edge of the spacers.
  4. Assemble the side and top trays, and attach them along the top edge.
  5. Lift into place by starting with the side panels.
  6. Insert the centre panel to finish the lower half of the walling system.
  7. Lift the panels one and one half inches from the bottom of the bottom tray and screw this into place using washers to make sure it is secure.
  8. Put the upper panels into place, make sure you start off at the side panels and then end with the centre panel.
  9. Once the panels are screwed into place, ensure that you fold the felt seam correctly to prevent water dripping onto the floor. The purpose of the felt seam is to help direct moisture within the panel system into the right place. Tuck the upper flap into the panel below and fold the lower flap up.
  10. Ensure that the bottom flap is then tucked into the bottom tray to direct moisture into the lower tray, ensuring that it is drained away.
  11. Use a ‘drain to waste’ irrigation system which helps drain away any extra water which is not absorbed by the plants. This can be done by using quarter inch soaker hoses threaded between the pockets and pulling them securely.
  12. Automate the watering system by installing hoses in every forth row as this will ensure even watering.
  13. Connect the watering system to a digital hose timer that is located outside.
  14. Now that the wall is fully installed and irrigation tubing is in place have fun by designing your own garden. Look at the diagram below of how you would insert plants. Remember to  think about the look you want, whether you want an instant grown-in-the wall look or not.
  15.  Remember to wrap the roots of your plants with pre-moistened felt squares to protect the roots and keep the installation tidy. You can then simply insert the plants into the pockets creating the wonderful living wall.

Five Shades of Green on London’s Living Wall

Just two train stops from the official London Olympics site is a spectacular example of living wall art.  It is also Europe’s tallest living wall and it sits quite proudly on Digby Road. This artwork can be found on the side of an award winning and eco-friendly apartment block in Central London, Hackney. The vertical living wall is fourteen stories high with plants climbing the façade of the building and they wrap over to the roof into a garden for the residents to enjoy.

London’s living wall in Digby Road consists of evergreens which have been cleverly selected. The plants have been installed into the concrete cladding where the designers have created a green tapestry which covers one wall of the apartments. The design is eye catching, where the shape is formed like a series of rolling waves on the side of the building – they rise and fall in curves. The landscaped wave designs have been created by planting five distinct species which are indeed five different shades of green. The evergreens have also been selected to add another texture to the building, and the green colour compliments the terracotta paintwork.

The survival of these plants was of great importance to ensure that the vertical wall art remained aesthetically pleasing to all passers by – all year round. Especially since London is known to have four seasons in one day, the landscape designers have taken great lengths to choose the right species of plants. No matter what the weather, the artwork was selected to remain intact –  and evergreens were selected as plants which were considered the most suitable for any weather condition. It happens that even if London is warm or cold – the evergreens will remain green and the beauty of the artwork will be maintained.

The building and the living wall art have both won numerous awards including one of the most respected property awards, being the Estates Gazette’s (EG) Green Award.  The green walling system not only provides insulation from solar gain, but it aids natural rain filtration.  The insulation benefits are both thermal and acoustic aspects as the green wall itself absorbs sound – which is a great benefit to an inner city apartment block with 96 units. Also, since the green wall in Digby Road has been erected in such an urban area, the wall itself helps improve local air quality, absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen to the resident’s windows near by.

The environmentally friendly wall art on Digby Road is indeed stunning. It was affixed to the wall not only to improve the aesthetics of a redeveloped building in Central London but it works to protect the building façade and deter graffiti which is always prevalent in a large city.

You too can create your own vertical garden whether it’s on a refurbished or new building. Green walling systems are virtually maintenance free. They are easy to install, and can be fixed to most structures including timber, concrete, and steel. Please feel free to browse our site for more creative vertical garden ideas. It’s easy to make  something spectacular that both you and your friends will love.


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