Zoo’s wonder wall is of growing interest

2018 05 PZ Living Wall 2
(Last Updated On: May 25, 2018)

Paignton Zoo Environmental Park has created an indoor vertical garden.

Horticulturalists have planted an area of wall 4 metres wide and 1.5 metres high in the entrance hall. Paignton Zoo’s Curator of Plants and Gardens Giles Palmer said: “This living wall is an impact piece, a statement. It reflects the exciting, exotic Zoo beyond the ticket desks!”

The space is filled with nearly 600 plants, including Philodendron, Ctenanthe (which has variegated foliage), Tradescantia (spiderwort), Ficus (fig), Chamaedorea (a dwarf palm), Asplenium (a fern), Stromanthe (with red and green leaves).

The plants were all chosen because they thrive in the conditions and the different forms of foliage offer good texture variation. Similar species can be found throughout existing plantings in the tropical exhibits of the Zoo.

The living wall took a couple of days to install but Giles has been planning the work for about three months; if things go according to plan, he hopes to add to it over time. The building already has a green roof planted with grasses and sedums.

Giles: “We hope the wall will create a wow factor as our guests enter the first building of their Zoo visit. I hope to quite literally breathe life into the building. I want guests to be aware that our Zoo values plants equally with animals, and that plants are amazing.”

Giles is also keen to point out the benefits to guests and staff of a green wall in the entrance hall: “Interior living walls contribute positively to sound insulation and air quality as well as being visually stunning. Many studies have shown the positive effect that plants can have on morale and stress levels within the workplace, so perhaps it will help our busy front of house staff during the summer holidays!”

Giles cites the Biophilia hypothesis that suggests humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other living things. “The Zoo grounds provide ample opportunity for interactions with nature, but we want to demonstrate that this can be brought inside, too. Anyone who has a cheese plant or spider plant at home is already dipping their toe into Biophilia.”

The living wall was installed by ANS Group Global Ltd of Chichester. Why did Giles choose them? “I looked at different systems and felt that the ANS system was best for our circumstances. I want this wall to thrive for many years and for that to happen the plants need room for their roots to migrate. The ANS soil grown system provides the best scope for this.” Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is a registered charity. For more information go to www.paigntonzoo.org.uk or ring 01803 697500.

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