Urban Jungle Makes a Name in Vertical Gardening

From: Garden Chic, January/February, 2013

Urban Jungle Makes a Name in Vertical Gardening
Urban Jungle in Philadelphia is making a bold statement with two 60-square-foot vertical gardens flanking the sign on its brick warehouse-style building. The garden center, which opened in December 2009, has made vertical gardening its “centerpiece,” says Owner Curtis Alexander. “I focus on vertical gardening because it differentiates us. In the urban environment, it is the most impactful way to green your space.”

Alexander is constantly identifying vertical spaces that could use greening. Cinder block fences are a popular spot for vertical gardens, especially since they make for a structurally sound support and, otherwise, are not a pretty sight.

Most of the interest in vertical gardening is for outdoor applications, but Urban Jungle is actively promoting indoor use with grow lights as well. “I did an installation at Temple University, in their cafeteria, and the grow lights had such a great impact on the herbs,” Alexander says.

About half of Urban Jungle’s vertical gardening customers hire the garden center to install the system. Approximately 60 percent of the installations are residential; the remaining are commercial.

Urban Jungle offers three main systems: Woolly Pockets, BrightGreen and G-O2 Living Walls. The Woolly Pockets and BrightGreen systems are “consumer-friendly,” says Alexander; he has to install G-O2. “That’s more of a commercial application or a high-end residential. It’s pre-grown - it has to grow horizontally in a greenhouse,” he says. “I’m the representative on the ground in Philadelphia for G-O2.” Alexander has also adapted Woolly Pockets in a “green decor panel” that he created and installs. It has its own subterranean irrigation system and grow lights attached for interior applications.

Examples of the systems are scattered throughout the garden center’s indoor selling space to entice interest. And it’s worked. The new vertical venture has been such a hit that it’s prompted the garden center to open earlier in the season than usual. “It is our hot topic right now,” Alexander says, “and in my opinion, vertical greening is here to stay.”

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