NATURE AT HOME: You can let nature into your high-rise home by adding a few simple touches in your balcony
“How does nature fit into modern city living?”
I was presented with this question the other day but did not have the time to provide a proper reply as I was rushing for an appointment.
The very fact that I am writing this column tells one all they need to know how important I view having greens in our lives – more so for the city folks.
And I believe I am not alone in my beliefs. Look around many new projects and you can see many developers trying to up each other by providing ever more awe-inspiring landscaped gardens.
Rooftop gardens are also getting increasingly common in many high-end condominiums around town. Looking at these beautiful gardens in the air got me thinking of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
Located in present day Iraq, the Hanging Gardens conjure up images of a mystical past, a story of romance and of ancient peoples with advanced technology that have been lost through the passage of time.
Famous as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the gardens were conceived by the king of Babylon Nebuchadnezzar II around 600 BC. From sketchy journals and scrolls of the era, he was said to have constructed the gardens to please his wife, Amytis of Media, who yearned for the trees and plants of her home in Persia.
Excerpts from the Greek historian Strabo’s extensive documentaries reveal remarkable craftsmanship in building the multi storey gardens, including the irrigation system.
Remember, this was 600 BC! Some excerpts from his accounts:
“The Hanging Gardens have plants cultivated above ground level, and the roots of the trees are embedded in an upper terrace rather than in the earth.
The whole mass is supported on stone columns. Streams of water emerging from elevated sources flow down sloping channels.
These waters irrigate the whole garden saturating the roots of plants and keeping the whole area moist. Hence, the grass is permanently green and the leaves of trees grow firmly attached to supple branches. This is a work of art of royal luxury and its most striking feature is that the labour of cultivation is suspended above the heads of the spectators”.
To answer the question posted at the start of this article, it is an irony that as we become increasingly developed and celebrate our architectural achievements and bustling metropolis, the more we yearn to return to nature even if at great cost.
However, here our team at Terra Garden does not believe in the need to break the bank in bringing to life your own garden in the air. We have been receiving increasing demands from condominium and apartment owners to help them invite Mother Nature back into their lives.
The balcony is the obvious place to start as it receives sunlight and usually comes with some form of waterproofing and drainage system. I have discussed the issues of growing a garden in the balcony and rooftop in detail in an earlier article a couple of weeks back and would now like to share some of the actual activities that we have done.
However, a quick recap of what we have discussed previously before we continue.
The easiest way to set up a garden in the balcony or around the house is to use potted plants as they are easier to move and do not require major changes to the structure and finishing of your house to accommodate them.
You might grow some leafy plants as a screen or creepers along railings for added privacy.
The glass screen door usually found separating the balcony and the room is an obvious boundary for the garden but it does not need to be kept to strictly. Placing some potted plants on the other side of the screen helps give a sense of cohesiveness in the overall design and can help make the room appear larger as the eyes are led naturally towards the open balcony.
You can also try hanging potted plants or fixing light pots onto the walls to grow some cascading plants to create your own hanging garden. Take note to either use less conspicuous pots or plants with more leaves to better create the illusion of a smooth green wall of plants.
Now let us look at what we have done to improve the balcony space.
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