James Galloway – Plant Up – Interview at 215 Adelaide Street Brisbane

Plant Up is a Brisbane-based vertical garden company doing some amazing work around the CBD, including the new work at ‘Jimmy’s on the Mall’ at Queen Street. Vertical Garden Specialist, Shane Sadkowsky, interviewed James Galloway with the aim to find out a bit more about the people behind the gardens. James gave some fantastic insights and reveals some great advice for anyone who is interested in working with plants for vertical gardens.

On the topic of the future of vertical gardening and how it might evolve here in Brisbane, James had plenty to say.

“The only way is up in our eyes. Brisbane in comparison with the rest of the world was fairly late and slow in the uptake of green walls. Sydney and Melbourne especially, they really took it and ran with it. You only have to walk around Melbourne and Sydney now and you see lots of green walls that have been there for a number of years. Brisbane have now had a taste for it and are starting to really go for it.” James said. “… architects are now starting to realise that this is not a passing trend, that it will be around for a long time. And not only are the economical benefits being realised, but also the psychological benefits in all the science behind having plants living inside a building. … We will start to see bigger schemes, we will see more evolving schemes where it is not just a green wall but also will be a combination of trellises to enable them to be bigger, taller, wider, with really cool angles. But the big evolution for us will be in edible green walls.”

Retrofitting is a great way to breath life back into an old building.

James said, “it is not that hard to do. You just need to embrace the basics which is water, drainage and lighting. If you can do those you can grow plants anywhere.”

Gardening vertically can have its challenges.

James says the big one is, “access, it’s always about access. We are always going up, and for this job (215 Adelaide Street, Brisbane) to get up we actually had a large machine, an articulated knuckle boom, sitting in a pivot point. And we had to invent a rig to go on our rails to lift the rails into position, because the machine was extending out so far we couldn’t put additional weight in the bucket. Second, if it is retrofit it is generally capturing the water. You can normally get water there. A little poly pipe, or copper pipe is usually easy to conceal…but the difficult one is drainage. There is two or three solutions there, whether you drill a hole into the basement below and then pick up a storm water pipe or if you can’t do that you can introduce tanks and capture the water.”

There is a lot of new research coming out now highlighting the psychological benefits of bringing nature back indoors.  Can vertical gardens help make people happier, healthier and more productive?

“Sure can! There has been a lot of research carried out on this very subject not only in Australia but globally. There is a new term called ‘Biophilic Relationships’. We have a subliminal connection to plants, whether it’s memories from childhood or just being human and being surrounded by the environment, deep down inside each and every one of us we subliminally acknowledge the plant, we feel better when they are around us, whether it is walking through grassy fields or forests we just can feel better. They have even had recent studies showing that the classrooms that have plants in them resulted in the students doing better and especially around exam time, it reduces their stress levels.”

To finish up James is encouraged to give one bit of advice for anyone who is wanting to start working with plants.

“That piece of advice is, go do it. Start small, build on the knowledge that you learn from those plants through trial and error. There are a lot of systems out there… you can get domestic ones that you can use on a small scale or you can trial trellising plants too. There is so many incredible plants that climb onto surfaces like wire and timber. Build up your plant knowledge more than anything, there are plants that do well vertically and plants that don’t. Like plants that don’t attach or trees and shrubs that need a bigger surface areas on a horizontal plain. But there are hundreds, thousands of plants that will grow in unusual extraordinary circumstances, that just turn around and surprise you.”

Follow the links to see the full interview.

Written by
Shane Sadkowsky