This is the second post of a series on our trip to Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA, about 30 miles from Philadelphia the end of October 2012. One of the major features added to Longwood conservatories since we last visited is a Living Wall of plants. It is the largest vertical plant wall in North America. It was designed by Kim Wilkie in the UK with Philadelphia landscape architects Wels Appel using a British Columbia firm GSky’s modular coconut coir in stainless panel system. It is described here and here. It is a hydroponic system that is intended to be automated, but it is also one that the Longwood staff are learning as they go. Some ferns (the walls are mostly ferns) do well and some do not. Plants at the top of the walls get by on less water than those lower on the wall. It has been installed about 2 years, and plants have been changed out that have not shown “evergreeness” – because with a wall like this, you can’t have a “bad hair day” for your guests. Every fern and other plant on the wall is on show every day.
This is a modern space off to the side of one of the entrances, and easily missed. It is quite a spectacle, really. Quite impressive, but with a built-in ha-ha: It houses room after room of private lavatories! Nothing else. The docents leading children stop there and explain basic plant biology. Otherwise, it is a walking spectacle and the main bathrooms! Take a visit with us:
An introductory post on the Conservatories and the grafted mums is here.