Vertical gardens are a great way of growing in urban spaces, with the potential to transform the way they look bringing oxygen and colour even sometimes into indoor spaces. They can provide habitats, help buildings with their climate control, and be for food growing.
These pictures are of column gardens launched in Derby (http://www.bbc.co.uk/derby/content/articles/2008/02/29/vertical_gardens_2008_feature.shtml). As well as vertical greenery, they have nest boxes at the top. However, they demonstrate also some of the difficulties of vertical growing, particularly getting eneough water to all the plants.
There was an award winning vertical garden (http://www.landshare.net/users/editor/blog/vertical-allotment-wins-gold-at-rhs-chelsea-flower-show/) at the Chelsea flower show, which while mostly costly and purpose built, also had some more cost efficient small scale elements.
Probably the most famous vertical garden designer is Patrick Blanc, and you can see some great pictures of one of his gardens and step-by-step pictures of someone making one along the same design themselves here http://tumbleweedtraveller.blogspot.com/2011/03/how-to-build-your-own-living-wall-or.html
Manchester has some really groundbreaking vertical garden projects proposed, in Salford and in Wythanshawe.
Apparently at Epoch 6 Urban Laboratory (http://biosphericfoundation.com/epoch6) in Salford, there is someone researching using a vertical garden to mimic the thermal regulation of skin, either releasing more or less water through evaporation and transpiration. A trial has been proposed there, though I’m not sure if there is a timescale or if funding has been secured.
At the Manchester International Festival 2011 there was a talk about Alpha Farm (http://alphafarm.org/), a project to use an old office building in Wythanshawe for a substantial project, that will include growing food for the MIF 2013. It’s proposed to include aeroponics hydroponics and aquaculture.
There has been excited talk (e.g. http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/news/s/1049269_the_green_wonderwall) about possible vertical walls in manchester before though, so we’ll have to wait and see about these larger scale projects. Simple low maintenance vertical gardens can be created by hanging and trailing plants, as well as by seedums. There are many different styles and techniques – just have a look through http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_wall. But there is nothing like actually experimenting – so why not have a go?