Vertical Gardens on Yachts – Will They Ever Grow?

We spoke with Michael Hellgren, the founder and lead architect of Vertical Garden Design, who shared his own thoughts about high-end garden designs on superyachts with us. Michael is a strong believer in the beauty of plants and believes that their presence will be great for the psychological well-being of anyone spending time on a superyacht.

More than that, however, he acknowledges that there are certain challenges and limitations when it comes to installing a variety of plants on seafaring vessel:

“As long as there isn’t direct spraying of water on the plants it should work fine. And in an interior environment the climate is not changing too much”, Michael says. “[The] exterior would be challenging though. There are plants that can handle spray from ocean water quite well – such as plants growing on coastal cliffs, but if they are completely drenched in salty water it would hardly work well. As it’s a moving vehicle, the planting area’s sun exposure may completely change and possibly also the climate – that could change the growing conditions dramatically”

Michael has led some incredible projects, including an interior and exterior design in Natura Towers in Lisbon. This project was particularly interesting because part of the surface was covered by shadows while other parts were very exposed to the sun.

Indoor and outdoor yacht gardens

For quite some time, traditional yacht designs tended to exclude plants, at least in any substantial number. While owners or interior decorators may have chosen to add a couple of inconspicuous plants on board, flora on a larger scale were not likely contenders as stylistic or practical choices.

In recent years, however, this trend has slowly changed. While some superyachts adhere to traditional designs, many of them have attempted to break the mold one way or another. Once upon a time, garden designs were not even considered viable due to limitations in tech. Now, we have seen some tremendous ideas brought on board while there are several ideas yet to be implemented.

While gardens that would work great on land might not always work on a superyacht, that is not always the case. High-end indoor garden designs in particular may well find their place on a superyacht though some elements might need to be adjusted. For instance, temperature control and exposure to the sun and saline water have to be carefully measured and managed. The technology for such endeavors is already here.

Practicality and style

While one might think that keeping plants on a boat is not the most practical of ideas, the truth is that there are several types of plants that would fare very well during sea travels. Reborn (previously known as Boadicea), is a fantastic example of that. The superyacht’s gardens are equipped with a range of tropical plants in an area where guests can enjoy their afternoon tea or allow their pets to roam in a more natural environment.

Another contrasting example comes from the Laurel. The 73-metre superyacht features a temperature controlled-garden that can provide the chef with fresh herbs for anything from a delicious meal to a refreshing mojito.

As usual, the key here is looking beyond traditional designs as well as adhering to the very specific challenges of the sea. After all, there is a plant for every occasion. There are thousands of different species to choose from, each of which is resilient to different conditions which might make them a great choice for one superyacht and a disaster for another.

Is a full garden feasible?

Whether a superyacht can pull an entire garden or not depends on a number of factors. First and foremost, it depends on where the vessel will travel to. Some countries will not allow soil from different countries to be transported inside their borders, for instance, which might make the mere idea of a traditional garden unfeasible in certain situations.

Of course, most issues can be solved with some creativity. New advances in hydroponics and aeroponics are already providing designers with new solutions. For reference, hydroponics is the method of growing and keeping plants without soil in a water solution whereas aeroponics refers to the same process using no soil and almost no water, usually in a suspended configuration.

The technology necessary for the creation of such systems has been the focus of much research over the past few years. Today, full garden systems can be deployed in virtually any situation, including on superyachts.

The future of superyacht garden technology

Though there are certainly challenges associated with both outdoor and indoor gardens on superyachts, many of the new concepts we have seen in the last couple of years show a real interest for greener vessels.

The superyachts of the future, regardless of their size, are very likely to feature a variety of garden designs, particularly indoors. Incorporating a Zen atmosphere with notions of environmental appreciation and awareness is an increasingly popular trend, one which will most likely grow stronger in the near future.

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