“This is the time for realising a facade garden”

Realising a thousand facade gardens in Rotterdam together with residents. The plan has been simmering in the mind of sustainable entrepreneur Raymond Landegent for years. Corona gave him the final push: ‘I have the time now, and other people do too. Last week, Raymond started a light-campaign for facade gardens on his Facebook page Plantenasiel Rotterdam. His facade garden campaign takes off with great fanfare on 22 May, International Day for Biological Diversity.

Plantenasiel Rotterdam?

‘I started this Facebook group out of my love for plants in 2013. On the page, we share daily tips to maintain or revive your (house) plant, we offer cuttings you can pick up and plants for exchange or ‘babysitting’. I got the idea when I saw that there was a national Facebook group. I immediately thought: this only works if it’s local because no one from Rotterdam will go to Amersfoort or Groningen for a cutting.’

And now, in times of Corona, there’s a big demand?

‘The page is doing really well, especially now. We have 6000 members; all Rotterdam plant lovers. These people now have time, they’re at home and they want to work outside, get their hands dirty. It’s spring. The garden centres are extremely busy. I feel the urge too. Normally I organise events for Blue City, but that work has stopped. So, it’s time to get started with plants.’

You posted your idea for a thousand facade gardens on Facebook for the first time last week.

‘In bold capitals: TIME FOR A FACADE GARDEN! With a few photos of people sitting next to plants outside their front doors. And the text: “Would you like to be sitting here next summer? Then it’s now high time to get started. While working from home, you can easily set aside an hour for the work.” There were a lot of reactions. Thirty facade gardens have been created since then.’

After your appeal on Facebook, you were called by Open Rotterdam, a local channel.

‘They thought it was a fun initiative. They asked if they could film me so they could show their viewers how to build a facade garden. Of course, you can! The more attention the better. My ambition is to start a movement. How nice would it be if we added a thousand facade gardens in six months? I think I’ll be responsible for about a hundred of them. Residents will be responsible for the rest. The more people who participate, the better.’

Is building a facade garden really just an hour’s work?

‘Yes, that’s all it takes! With a good spade, you can dig the tiles out of the ground. If you put them upright in the sand, you don’t even have to dispose of them. Then scoop out a little sand and mix what is left with potting soil. Add plants and your enjoyment can begin. “An hour of work, years of fun,” I say. Especially if you choose perennial plants. You shouldn’t plant violets.’

How much maintenance does a facade garden require?

‘Every garden needs time and love. It’s nature. But you can go a long way with five minutes a week. All it needs is a little water and some raking now and then. That’s not enough work to put anyone off. And a facade garden has many advantages. Here are the top three: 1. It instantly brightens up the street. 2. You come home happier. 3. It’s good for bees and insects.’

What if I want to create a facade garden?

‘Register with Plantenasiel Rotterdam via Facebook (or Instagram) and let us know that you want a facade garden. Watch the video of the construction and get started. If you want advice on creating and planting, please ask. If you want facade gardens for the whole street, let me know. I can advise on a total picture and help with the construction. This is the time for a facade garden. When the measures are eased again soon, time will be gone.’

Text: Esther Wienese
Photo credits: Raymond Landegent en Open Rotterdam

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