Living walls are a great big live trend in architecture today on the grounds that, in our traffic-choked concrete cities, we need all the living, breathing greenery we can get. When properly managed, a tall building in particular, can hike up its eco credentials as well as look extra spectacular and less severe with the addition of spills of lush verdant foliage spilling down from above.
Living green walls were formally thought up as a deliberate design feature by an Illinois professor of landscaping, Stanley Hart White, in 1938. The globe-trotting trendy French botanist Patrick Blanc is today's most famous vertical gardener thanks to his liaisons with top architects in cities all over the world. Particularly well known are his green walls at the Musee du Quai Branly in Paris.
In reality ordinary people grew plants up the walls of their homes from the beginning of time, either for eating (raspberries come to mind) or for pure decoration, with the help of rambling roses or woodbines.
The owners of a severe 1970s-looking home, or one with dull render, know that nothing improves the look of the property more than a coating of nature's green and fluttering insulation.There are all kinds of options.
Ivy has the advantage of being evergreen although its prising suckers can damage mortar joins over time. There's jasmine for a fragrant perfume (if you buy the right versions) and clematis is perfect for a seasonal colour explosion, particularly useful around porches.
There's the eponymous Wisteria with its extraordinary deep purple hanging lozenges and Russian vine if you want swathes of snowy white blossoms.
You can change the colour of your house five times in the year with the wonderful Virginia creeper, a soft bright green coloured leaf which turns red then orange then yellow then brown shrub with spectacular effect every autumn through to winter. Gardeners will also know how utilising the walls of the house can lend great depth of field to a suburban patch by using the walls to provide height.
Few homes in Dublin show how effective looking green walls can be than Bremac, a seaside homestead buried in a thoroughly private and leafy site off St George's Avenue in Killiney, Co Dublin. The aerial shot above says it all about the location while the photograph of the front shows why Bremac must be one of Dublin's 'greenest' properties. With most of the house covered on one side, the upright planting includes varieties of flowering Clematis and the queen of all the verticals, the purple Wisteria.
The owners are keen on the garden which spans almost an acre and the planting rises in steps from the low-shaped topiary mixed through with looser planting, to the living house walls and ultimately to the mature high trees surrounding the site. The mix of plants, sown mostly by the previous owner provide blooming that is almost year-round. It also helps that the property is laid out in an enwrapping L-shape. Bremac has far more to offer however than just some upstanding green credentials.
The house is located on south-facing slopes which run right down the sea at Killiney and if you don't fancy an outdoor dip at the spectacular Hawk Cliff bathing area nearby, you can do it all indoors in heated water in Berac's own indoor pool. This is contained in a pool room with stout timber beaming work that is quite spectacular in its woodcraft.
The accommodation is six times the size of an average semi at 6,190 sq ft and includes an entrance hallway with wood panel ceilings and solid oak flooring. There's a living room with an open fireplace and huge windows overlooking said gardens.
The dining room has views of the Sugar Loaf mountaiun and the fitted kitchen comes with an Aga (it's green!). There's a family room, a utility room and a home office.
The white framed conservatory with matching floor tiles provides more indoor visual vantage points to the garden. The house comes with four bedrooms which are all double in size. There's a family bathroom and two of those bedrooms have their own en-suites with a walk-in wardrobe off the master chamber.
Then comes the home's own swimming pool complex. Apart from the aforementioned pool (there are three sets of sliding glass doors to the garden beside it), you have your own sauna room.
If the equivalent of six semi-ds aren't enough, planning permission has been obtained in the past to open up the attic for an additional master bedroom suite and two studies.
These would have improved views, raised again on a site which is already elevated. The property is entranced off St George's Avenue along a sweeping driveway that arrives at an oyster-coloured gravel apron to its upwardly mobile garden.
St George's Ave, Killiney, Co Dublin
Asking price: €2.575m
Agent: Savills (01) 2885011