Here is yet another cool looking LED desk lamp from Toshiba Lighting Systems. It looks like it could easily help you keep a living plant on your desk while lighting your work. Note that it folds flat. The lamp was displayed at the recent Milan Design Week.
I will attend LIGHTFAIR International here in New York City on May 5-7 with camera in hand. Stay tuned for future posts about the latest in LED and OLED lighting.
This is yet another approach to creating a living wall. The wall is in a courtyard of Casa Camper a hotel in Barcelona, Spain. Each bedroom and bath has a view of the wall. The hotel also has a rooftop garden terrace.
The RED side opens onto a small, quiet inner courtyard, and from the bedroom and bath one can see an unusual installation: an 18-meter-high shelf is planted with over 100 aspidistra plants—a lush, vertical garden. Read more...
What I particularly like is that the plants are low-light tolerant Aspidistra. I'm guessing that they are a dwarf variety.
I have grown many Aspidistra plants in clay pebbles (hydroculture). They are very durable indoor plants but not very easy to find. It's worth looking. I'm going to buy some dwarf Aspidistra plants online.
If anyone has a recommendation or suggestion please post a comment.
PISA - Programme for International Student Assessment - Click on photo to enlarge
I am long past my time of raising school age children, but if I were, I would be very concerned about the quality of their education. What you can read here in the recent McKinsey Report (PDF) reflects what I experience in my daily research for this blog.
Knowledge of basic science is appallingly weak. Junk science, mythology and ideology are pervasive. In my view, this negatively affects new job creation and impairs our individual ability to feed ourselves among other things. These are societal problems that we all need to address as parents, students, teachers and business entities.
Tom Friedman is a far more eloquent commentator than I. Read his recent column on the subject. It is titled Swimming Without a Suit.
Just a quick review: In the 1950s and 1960s, the U.S. dominated the world in K-12 education. We also dominated economically. In the 1970s and 1980s, we still had a lead, albeit smaller, in educating our population through secondary school, and America continued to lead the world economically, albeit with other big economies, like China, closing in. Today, we have fallen behind in both per capita high school graduates and their quality. Consequences to follow.
This Q&A page on their website has some interesting and valuable information. It is well worth reading if you have an interest in biowalls or active green walls.
The following question was of particular interest to me relative to the widespread junk science on the web about the supposed air cleaning qualities of individual potted houseplants.
What's the difference between installing an active Living Wall and simply putting a large number of plants in your space?
Some suggest that plants may remove VOCs from their surrounding environment. However, there is very little available data to support this claim.
Most studies which find any VOC removal with potted plants suggest it is in the potting soil (where the beneficial microbes live), not the green plant, where the breakdown occurs. Others believe that even if plants can clean the air, they could only clean a very thin layer of air immediately around their leaves.
When a plant is simply placed on a desk or even in a grouping on a wall, the typical low rates of air movement around it would limit its impact on the air, in the space as a whole. By actively drawing air through a NEDLAWLiving Wall, we force pollutants to the root zone where real breakdown can occur.
Here is a biowall (aka green wall, living wall) similar to this one. The photo is from the University of Guelph-Humber website. Why is it that we have no leading edge research in this field here in the U.S.? Canada does.
Why is it that we have so-called green buildings with no plants, or what I call urban greenscaping? For example, the GreenBuildingsNY trade show will be at the Javits Center in June. At this time there are over 125 exhibitors with just one that is plant or urban greenscaping related.
There are many in the media who have ranted and raved about the White House garden. In my view, we have much bigger problems than that. To paraphrase a famous quote by a White House oval office resident..."It's our education stupid!"
Walking into the University of Guelph-Humber is like a breath of fresh air, which isn’t surprising since the institution works hard to care for the four-story living plant wall located in the University atrium.
Officially called the bio-wall, it spans 10 meters by 17 meters and has been a part of the building since its inception in 2002. In 2005 the bio-wall won an award of Excellence for Innovation in Architecture from the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada.
Besides purifying and cooling the air the bio-wall cuts the University of Guelph-Humber’s energy consumption by ten per cent every year. On top of that studies have shown that greenery in indoors spaces can reduce absenteeism and increase productivity - how’s that for getting an A plus advantage! Read more...
Biowall at Dansko corporate headquarters - Photo - Leader-Telegram online
Soil removed the plants are now growing as epiphytes (air plants).
Planned four-story biowall at Drexel University
The bottom two photos are from an interesting Philadelphia Inquirer article about plant walls inside buildings. They are also called green walls, living walls and vertical gardens...take your pick.
In this case, it is appropriate to call them biowalls since they have an air-cleaning function beyond their decorative properties. Some call them active green walls. What makes them active is fan-assisted air circulation through the plant wall. That is how the air cleaning is accomplished.
It is interesting to see how commonly available soil-grown houseplants are used. They wash the soil from the root system and install the plants in a double thickness of fabric as shown in the middle photo.
The fabric is irrigated from above and the water then travels down to each plant. These terrestrial plants are essentially growing in a hydroponics environment in the biowall.
This is similar to the system used by Kamal Meattle in the Paharpur Business Center in Delhi, India. His TED presentation has been the subject of much blogger buzz about how three species of "magical air cleaning" plants can clean the air in your home. This is junk science.
What is not said in his TED presentation is that all of the plants are in one room. Apparently, his plant room does essentially the same thing as these biowalls. See this prior post.
Forty young students from the Harte Elementary School in Hyde Park, Chicago learned about growing vegetables in urban spaces with no access to tillable earth. What a great way for them to celebrate Earth Day.
They are now on their way to discovering the many benefits of sub-irrigated planters through their hands-on experience with EarthBoxes.
It is appropriate that their learning session was on the entrance steps to the Chicago Museum of Science & Technology.
Some of these youngsters will perhaps be some of our future urban greenscapers. It will require some education but it will be a green job career worth pursuing.
Note that a generic name "earth box" is used for the brand name EarthBox. This is an interesting comment about availability.
Earth boxes can be purchased at most garden centers. You fill them up, plant your crop, and life is suddenly greener.
I don't know about Chicago but in New York if you shop garden centers looking for "earth boxes" you are not likely to find them. You will probably get a lot of quizzical looks instead. Most retailers are clueless as to what they are.
I don't know of any retail outlet where you can buy an EarthBox here in the Big Apple. The majority of them are purchased online from EarthBox.com, Amazon.com and HSN.com (Home Shopping Network).
These photos were captured from the ABCTV Chicago news video.
Following is an excerpt from an article titled "Revival of the Veggie Garden" written by Susan Edwards, Chesterfield County, Virginia cooperative extension agent.
It may not seem like much but this is the first time I have seen the use of the word "sub-irrigated" used in place of the inappropriate term self-watering. It is also rare to find an extension agent make mention of the EarthBox, or any other sub-irrigated (aka self-watering) planter for that matter.
It’s good to see some sign of progress, no matter how small.
• Consider "sub-irrigated" containers, such as the Earthbox (www.earthbox.com), which use less water than other types of containers and make it impossible to drown your plants.