Using plants to sort the world out

The World Green Infrastructure Congress in Berlin has come to an end.  

I am sure you’d all love my 4 page conference report but I want to share a few highlights here instead!


The climate’s changing.  Many talks had a reference to massive weather changes and natural disasters.  This week in Austria the night-time temperature will not dip below 26 deg.  That’s 6 degrees higher than in the rural area adjacent to the city.  The heat island effect is happening here (the temperature builds all day in Berlin, it’s peaking tonight at 1am). Plants can help do this – green roofs & planting trees do lower temperatures. 

Patrick Blanc.  Wow. Even his planting plans are beautiful. For 40 years he’s been making green walls.  They are a mix of art and botany.  Some walls have up to 30 species per square metre.  I am going to seek out more information on a wall he mentioned in Japan which is entirely of native plants no more than 20km from the site.  Might be useful thinking for the epiphytum.  He’s also been involved in this Sydney project   the tallest green wall in the world (150m) made up of 350 native  Australian native species (30,000 shrubs and 70,000 plants).

The buildings of the future are here now and many are in Asia (Manila, Singapore, India). Where are these buildings in NZ? Some pictures presented like the Bosco Verticale in Manila I assumed were ‘artists impressions’ when actually they were real! Perhaps we have to get very close to the tipping point of exterminating nature before we invest in this. 

There were some fun products on display such as this machine which turns trees so you can plant them horizontally! 


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Visioverdis swivelling trees

Today I visited 5 sites with green roofs in the trip.  From expensive exclusive patio gardens, to social housing parks, a rental apartment (homemade) to an entire business district.

A psychiatric hospital therapy garden which is a green roof
The hospital garden was really tranquil & I can see it’s very useful for patients working in it & using it to relax
To see the green roofs of Potsdamer Platz you go to the top floor of a building with the fastest lift in Europe. 26 floors, 30 seconds. My ears popped.
When the Berlin Wall came down this space was empty. This new business area, the ‘centre’ of reunified Berlin, is a complex of 10 or so huge buildings. All have green roofs. No water ends up in the drains.
A homemade green roof in a private apartment complex. At many levels there’s green roof gardens and roofs. Which you can climb on. Look closely!
A Park on a roof of a shopping complex that is used by this rent controlled apartment complex.
A private green roof, level 3

I met the couple that run greenroofs.com and I’ll send them my ‘green roofs in Auckland’ summary for their database (to take it international), Dusty Gedge who wrote some books we have in the ABG library, landscapers from Germany & the Czech Republic, a kiwi living in Berlin constructing green roofs, a German woman who manufactures pots that they 100% recycle, a Swiss architect who is also a horticulturalist…and more. A great conference, I’ve learned lots to bring back to ABG and Auckland Council. 

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