A Living, Woolly Even, “Outdoor Room with Jamie Durie”

July 20, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Have you seen HGTV’s first season of “The Outdoor Room with Jamie Durie” yet?   It’s really good!   Now based in Los Angeles, Jamie’s an extremely talented, and well-travelled,  landscape  artist from Down Under and he brings his international wanderings as the basis for his  popular, eclectic designs.

Lackluster outdoor spaces are  transformed from dysfunctional and boring to flowing  and fantastic.   Homeowners share their woes and  desires, and  host Jamie draws upon a variety of elements for his metamorphoses – previous  experiences with  the rich and famous; visiting  local  designers, horticulturalists and gardeners; and  referencing both native and exotic  landscapes  as well as  architecturally designed  sites.   The result is always a unique outdoor room, or series of rooms, infused with Jamie’s world view on design aesthetics.

A  few weeks ago I saw Episode #HORJD-107H  called “The Edible Garden” about transforming a quirky, uneven family backyard into an eco-retreat full of ornamental  vegetable gardening options plus a variety of adult and  children spaces for play and rest.   And what caught my eye was the top-to-bottom living gazebo!

Since the young eco-conscious family of four from Echo Park, CA, enjoys growing their own organic  food and already  had several productive but awkward raised beds of their own, Jamie  wanted the same features, just with different sensibilities.   After saving some of the existing plants, he visited John, a  local “edible garden” designer who incorporates A-frames into his creations for his take on structural elements and planting beds.   Jamie also  interviewed Miguel Nelson  of  The SmogShoppe  – a former Los Angeles gas emissions station/auto repair shop  turned  hip eco-event space with 2,000 sf of amazing green walls.

What a cool space!   First of all it’s pending LEED Platinum certification, and the exterior and interior walls are completely covered in lush vegetation, grown in modular  “Woolly Pockets.”  I was unfamiliar with this particular system which  is made from felt and recycled plastic bottles.

Not part of the show, but interesting on its own, I found out that in addition to  his commercial enterprise, Miguel started “Woolly School Gardens.”   Through the program, inexpensive gardens are planted at local schools to help teach nutrition and gardening to students K-12.   They say they’re ideal for urban schools as the Woolly Pockets planting system allows them to be created anywhere – from a concrete wall to a chain link fence.  There are numerous Woolly School Gardens in the Los Angeles area and the goal is to have 11,000 by 2011.  For more information, visit www.woollyschoolgarden.org.

Back to the HGTV episode, with the SmogShoppe as his inspiration, Jamie and crew built the open-air structure leaving one expansive wall open.   The living  lounge area  was easily  blanketed on the remaining  three sides with Woolly Pockets.   Luscious, edible  plants were inserted and it was done.   By the way, these vegetated walls are called “Wallys,”  seen below.  Although Jamie doesn’t even mention the greenroof (time editing restrictions?), I checked with the company and  half of the  roof, indeed, is covered with their modular greenroof system called “Meadows.”

The outdoor structure performs beautifully with double duty as a cool relaxation get away  and stunning, productive  area for vertical “pocket” gardening.   In the end, the family gets to enjoy their newly redesigned, sustainable  back yard  while setting a great example for ecologically sensitive living for  their kids, who  also get to  learn about natural composting with an earthy  gift from Jamie – a squiggly worm farm!

The full episode used to be online at HGTV, but now you can see  the partial  episode  here, and below from YouTube (the HGTV embedded code isn’t working):

This Edible Garden is well worth watching if you have the chance  to catch it with  reruns.   Each episode of “The Outdoor Room with Jamie Durie” is brimming with equal parts elegant  innovation and international  flair, and I’m sure this is just the beginning of educating homeowners and entertaining their audience with examples of these living, touchy, sometimes even woolly, vertical gardening techniques.

~ Linda V.