Vertical Delight

This garden is on display at Garden World, Beyers Naude Drive, Muldersdrift, Gauteng Tel: 011 957 2046 or 083 997 6142,

A garden by

@hand Landscaping


A sense of space can be created by the means of vertical structure’s on which plants grow into man-made structures without taking up to much space.

This garden illustrates how versatile plants can be and how much colour and texture is available in water wise succulents. These plants are opportunistic and will thrive in the smallest particles of soil. This enhance the vertical wall garden, a water feature resembling a small stream of water surfacing from a crack in a rock face is added. Here the vegetation changes to suit the moist eco-system. It’s the interplay of opposites and contrast that makes this interesting simplistic design so satisfying.

Plants don’t need soil in every situation because the soil is merely nothing more than a mechanic support. Only water and the many minerals dissolved in it are essential to plants, together with light and carbon dioxide to conduct photosynthesis. Wherever water is available all year long as in tropical forests or in temperate mountain forests, plants can grow on rocks, tree trunks, and slopes free-of-soil.

For instance in Malaysia, 2 500 out of the 8 000 known species are growing without any soil. Even in temperate climate zones many plants grow on cliffs, cave entrances or cracked rocks. On these rather steep places many Berberis, Spiraea, and Cotoneaster species are able to grow. Their naturally curved branches indicate that they originated from natural steep biotopes and not from flat areas like the gardens where they are usually planted. So – it is possible for plants to grow on virtually any vertical surface nearly free-of-soil, as long as there is no permanent shortage of water.

Even the odd very large plant such as the karoo aloe (Aloe ferox) or the krantz aloe Aloe arborescens) or even the sawn off stem of the Spanish dagger (Yucca aloifolia), will look excellent in a wall. These plants and indeed any other plant placed horizontally into the near-vertical rock face, will soon turn their stems and crowns upward. With very little effort therefore these near-natural cliffs can provide the innovstive gardener…To populate these vertical surfaces, you should use plants with fairly soft, fibrous roots that will not disturb the symmetry of the rock face, or even break the wall.

The scrambling aloes Aloe tenuior and Aloe ciliaris, creepers such as the the succulent leaved canary creeper Senecio tamoides will thrive in gabions, the roots of these plants will quickly find their way into the moisture retaining soil behind the rock cages.

Mignon’s vertical garden illustrates how versatile plants can be. They are opportunistic and will try and thrive in the smallest particles of soil. My vertical wall is a construction resembling a rambling wall where plants have anchored themselves.


The garden is water wise and succulents are predominant. I want to illustrate how much colour and texture is available in water wise plants. And how you can create a softer effect, something that many people find lacking in succulents.

Because of their architectural features succulents sometimes fall into the trap of being used exclusively for very hard modern lines.

The water feature resembles a small stream of water surfacing from a crack in a rock face. Here the vegetation changes to suit the moist ecosystem.


Focal plants: 1. Aloe barberea. 2 Agave attenuata.
Trees: Rhus lancea.
Aloe: Aloe cryptopoda.
Succulents: 4. Echeveria glauca. Echeveria nodulosa. 3. Sempervivium seerosenstern. Sedum nussbaumerianum. 6. Euphorbia tirucalli. Echeveria ‘Huffs Pink’. 5. Pachevaria glaucea

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