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Skyscrapers Dripping in Gardens Look Great Until the Mosquitoes Swarm

Skyscrapers Dripping in Gardens Look Great Until the Mosquitoes Swarm

Sep 18, 2020

By Diana Budds

Read More: https://www.curbed.com/2020/9/18/214...uitoes-chengdu


Chengdu has made it a mission to become a garden city of sorts. The Qiyi City Forest Garden, an eight-tower housing development was billed as an “eco paradise.” Each of the 826 units (which have all sold) has its own plant-filled balcony that looks like an overgrown back yard in the sky. But here’s the catch: mosquitoes, and lots of them. They love the gardens and they also love sucking the blood of people who live in them. The infestation is so bad that fewer than a dozen families have moved in. So, is this a good idea gone wrong? Or was it just poorly thought out to begin with?

- To answer some of our questions, we talked to Daryl Beyers, a landscape architect with over 20 years of experience, an instructor at the New York Botanical Garden, and the author of The New Gardener’s Handboook. Beyers has also designed a number of rooftop and terrace gardens across NYC, and, according to him, the short of it is: It’s not an inherently terrible idea, but it has to be done right. — “Just because it looks cool, absorbs CO2, is a noise buffer, and offers psychological benefits, doesn’t mean you don’t have to do it properly,” Beyers says. “And I think [the developers] rushed into it. They didn’t think about the maintenance.” — The problem in Chengdu is partly a result of bad design, but mostly a clear case of neglect. “You can’t have a garden without a gardener,” Beyers says. “They [developers] were touting it as a manicured garden outside on your deck. If it’s manicured, someone has to do the manicuring.”

- A better way to do it, according to Beyers, would be to pick dwarf plants that won’t grow and become overgrown so quickly. Better yet: allow the residents to pick the plants they want to grow. One site advertising Qiyi City mentioned that the developers will send gardeners four times a year to tend to the gardens, but even that’s not enough; Beyers says once a week is more realistic. — Compared to Qiyi City, Bosco Verticale in Milan has been a success story, both as the poster child for vertical forests and for the people who live there. A recent report from the World Green Building Council found that residents really love it there. In that case, the architects worked closely with an architectural botanist named Laura Gatti to make sure the plant palette over 500 medium-size and large trees, 300 small trees, 5,000 shrubs, and 11,000 plants would grow well and look good.


Qiyi City Forest Garden in Chengdu, China, was billed as an “eco paradise,” but a mosquito infestation has kept residents from moving in. Barcroft Media via Getty Images

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