34 Union Street - a really nice place to call home, close to everything, even the airport, but it could be a lot better

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The Hanging Gardens of --

A gloomy prospect

On the west side of our building is a large, grey, steel structure bolted to the wall and carrying the walkways giving access to the apartments on levels 2,3 and 4.

Access to the Level 1 apartments is provided by an expanse of grey tiles with only the fading memory of the architect's aim to break the monotony with a long narrow planter with greenery.

Levels 2,3 and 4 have a two metre high glass wall on the west side of the decking partly to provide shelter from the weather but mainly to satisfy regulations about visual intrusion into neighbouring properties. A fair description is that it has a stark industrial appearance.

With a bit of imagination it can be enhanced to add to the enjoyment of life here and to our property values.

There are examples at the "Commons" apartment building near Anstey station, where chains have been used to grow a green wall that after a couple of years flourishes. The two apartments on the other side of the line near Jewel each have steel cables extending from ground level up the concrete columns to encourage creepers. The southern and oldest one has Hardenbergia, I think.


Position yourself on Level 1 and notice the three passage ways on the east side. Now stand near one of these entrances, a bit off to one side and a couple of metres from the east wall. Look up and you can see past levels 2,3 and 4 to the sky.

Imagine a 60cm planter where you are standing with a slender column of greenery extending from the planter, up to and a little beyond L4. You have been omitted from the pic. Although the illustration shows only one green column, think of six - one on each side of each entrance.

I can already hear an objection that they will be in the way, but remember we did have planters along the full length of the east wall of that L1 space.

How can we do it?

The approach that will be certain to fail is to engage a contractor for the job. $30,000, a suggested estimate from one landscape gardener, will be certain to get the thumbs down from our "authorities", so we will do it with in-house capabilities. Our Owners Committee once spoke of "sub-committees" so here's our chance. Read Paying for the extras for a look at the options.

We start with a 30M x 90cm roll of 100mm x 100mm mesh. ($109 at Bunnings). Take a 13M length and roll it crosswise into a cylinder about 25cm diameter and fasten securely with wire clips. The 25cm diameter will allow an overlap of one 100mm square. This is a key part of our hanging garden.

An alternative to explore are the plants growing up chains on the north face of the "Commons" apartment building, near Anstey station.

Picture this cylinder hanging vertically from a position a little above the balustrade on L4 to the top of the earth in our planter.

Now imagine it it covered with assorted plants growing from the planter upwards to L4. Professional plant advice says it is very feasible and there is a good choice of plants.

Who's going to do it?

You will have noticed "in-house capabilities" mentioned, and that's how it can be achieved. The only areas where specific professional knowledge is needed are:

  1. Confirm that the structure at Level 4 can take an added load of 200Kg. (This should be a formality since the structures must be designed to carry many fat people at a single entrance.)
  2. If required provide Council approvable drawings of the structure from which the plants will hang.

For the first item we need an engineer to put their hand up. The job may simply be an examination of the decking drawings and verifying the likely weight of the mesh tube and the plants.

The drawings already exist for the L4 tube attachment, but will need some "professionalisation". Hands up please.


The only hazard is a collapse of a "plant tower". Each of these will have a secure attachment to L4 for security and positioning, and a lesser attachment at the other levels for cosmetic reasons. The weight of a tower with a full complement of plant growth is expected to be less than 100Kg.

The Bill of Materials
Item Quantity $ ea. $
Wire-mesh 3 rolls 109 327
Planters 6 200 1,200
Soil 36 packs 7.00 252
Plants 6 sets $100/set 600
L4 attachment 6 60.00 360
L2,L3 attachment 12 40.00 480
Total 3,219

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