Going green is contagious!

Going green is contagious!

When creative minds collaborate, the result can be awesome and inspiring. That’s exactly what happened when the intrepid home gardener Alcanne Houtzaager met with Quicklets and Zanzi Homes CEO Steve Mercieca and the company’s Environment committee.
Nestled in amongst indigenous Maltese flora, the February sunshine cast its warmth over the varying shades of green and floral highlights found at the ACT plant nursery in the North of Malta. It was here that the idea spawned for Alcanne to start with the creation of her very own #plantcushions, and in so doing, start a journey to inspire others to look into building their own. Not only an environmentally conscious step in the right direction, but also help manage their home insulation. All while adding greenery and pleasing views on what was otherwise a barren rooftop. 

Below we run through how she managed to do this. The steps, the costs and maintenance, and everything in between, so you can do the same, and bring a little greenery into your life!


Plant cushions for sale in Malta

What are plant cushions and what are the benefits? 

Photo courtesy of Alcanne Houtzaager

Drawing on a patented system used widely around the Mediterranean, plant cushions are small “mini gardens” which can be made easily and affordably. Given their size they are simply to construct, and can also be easily manoeuvred around to accommodate space requirements as well as a response to changing seasons. 

The design that Alcanne used creates cushions roughly 50cm x 50cm and can be laid on any flat surface that can accommodate them. The small size means that weight doesn't need to be accounted for, and if distributed properly, make an excellent mini garden that can show off varying flora to either be gazed upon or meandered through as you wish. 

Being relatively flat and low to the ground, they don't get caught by the sometimes excessive winds that tear across the Maltese Islands, as well as providing excellent insulation for roof tops. This in turn means warmer winters and cooler summers inside. 

With the ability to experiment with varying plant species, you can really boost the biodiversity in your space and bring a wealth of wildlife including birds, bees and butterflies!

Method to make space green

How do you make them? 

Photo courtesy of Alcanne Houtzaager

The list of materials is really short, and the time needed to make them even shorter. All you need is the following…

-1m x 1m shade cloth to keep the plants cool and give them extra support.

-1m x 1m weedmat to keep the roots inside the cushions.

-50cm x 50xcm rockwool (½ a slab about 5 cm or 10cm)

-Barch (to feed the plants and maintains water levels). About 12-15 scoops or handfuls should do it. 

-Composted earth in the same volumes as the Barch.

-5 to 6 bamboo canes for drainage; 

-4 or 5 succulents, preferably traditionally Maltese rubble wall plants as they flourish and cover the cushions fast.

Cut the shade cloth or hessian fabric to size and lay down flat. Then over this lay the pre cut weed mat, followed by the rock wool which you place in the centre. 

Stitch, sew, zip tie or staple the weed mat corners together until you have what looks like a neat little parcel that is open on the top. Fill this with the mixture or Barch and composted earth making sure that the weight of the mixture isn't too heavy for the cushion, but is still loosely compacted together. Then join the shade cloth together in the same way as the weed mat, and you are ready to place your succulents and other plants inside. Don't forget to place the sticks underneath the whole cushion to allow for easy drainage when watering. And that's it!

Succulent and flowers cushions

Photo courtesy of Alcanne Houtzaager

For those gardeners who want to keep their feline friends away from their cushions, look to plant coleus Canina which is supposed to ward them off. If you’re keen on sampling the fruits of your labour, try adding herbs to the mix, like thyme, parsley or mint. Stay away from things like strawberries and basil, as these require lots of water and care to grow successfully. 

And for all those green fingered coffee lovers, use your left-over coffee grinds in your soil and watch them really flourish!

For more details and inspiration, you can visit Vivacity Malta who specialise in the creation of green urban spaces. Alternatively, have a look through Alcanne’s instagram page and see how to transform your unused space. 

David Brookes
Written By

David Brookes