Owners and founders of the Woolly Pocket planting system, Miguel and Rodney Nelson cheerfully admit to having no knowledge of plants before inventing their innovative products. “I am an artist and my brother is a manufacturing expert,” explains Miguel, “we work well together, like Yin and Yang,” laughs the laid back Californian. “We are surrounded by people who do know their plants now though,” he continues, “gardeners have gravitated towards us, they love the product.”
“As an artist, I wanted to be able to decorate walls with plants but the only way was to grow a plant up a piece of wood or wire, so we invented our own breathable system. We started with ‘Wally’, a big, soft sided, lined pocket that you hang on a wall, (indoors as well as outside) fill with soil and add your plants. You can use a single pocket so you have a piece of living art, instead of a picture or a photo or you can group the pockets together to make a living wall that grows and breathes. The pockets are made from recycled plastic bottles and are constructed so that the wall stays completely dry; even if you were to fill the pocket with water the wall wouldn’t get wet,” Miguel reassures me, “people were a bit nervous of that at first. I believe everyone has a greener thumb than they think,” he adds, “and you don’t have to have a lot of knowledge to take care of plants in this system. They are easier to look after than a cat, do or a child,” he grins.
“We have created living walls for restaurants, Hotels and retail outlets as well as individuals,” he explains. “And we are now supplying schools too. Here in California, we have an ‘Edible School Yard’ programme where schools use an outside garden area as a classroom. The problem is that there often isn’t much land available and there’s all the red tape and building codes to get through to build a garden in a yard. With the Wallys, you just hang them on the wall or on the chain-link fence. You can create a whole garden in an afternoon and with little cost. Kids are encouraged to have their own Wally or pocket and different grades use them for different projects, from art to science or environmental.”
Miguel continues, in his soft Southern drawl, “We also offer free standing modules and even a living handbag. We are into thinking about plants as friends or pets so we want the whole system to be fun and not hard work. We have created a gardening container that is actually better for the plants than normal containers, the plants love them. We have new products coming out next month and we’ve called them after people; so we have Steve, Brain and Tina. Plants are all around us, why wouldn’t we see them as friends?”