living walls

Living walls are cropping up all over the Bay Area! Vertical expanses of greenery provide a restful connection to nature without taking up too much space. They also require less water than horizontal gardens.

The living wall at left serves as a lush backdrop for an intimate outdoor dining area in Willow Glen. The installation is by Habitat Horticulture, the same company that built the impressive vertical garden at the California Academy of Sciences (below right).

The technology behind living walls was invented by French botanist Patrick Blanc, who has done many spectacular installations all over the world. Perhaps his most famous piece was at the Caixa Forum in Madrid.

A couple of years ago, Drew High School raised funds to bring the legendary Mr. Blanc to San Francisco to design an exterior wall for the school’s new assembly wing.  The installation was completed this spring, though it will still take awhile for the plants to fill in completely. Blanc predicts that the wall will reach the full expression of his vision by fall of this year if you’d like to drive by and take a look then (corner of California and Broderick).

Interested in creating a living wall of your own? There are some wonderful “do-it-yourself” kits available now from Flora Grubb and Plants on Walls. Flora Grubb is the mastermind behind the elegant installation at the Bardessono Resort and Spa in Napa (left). Reminiscent of twinkling lights, the panels are quite unusual and have garnered a fair amount of national attention. Grubb has other photos on her website and tips for creating your own living wall here. For some specific plant suggestions, see this article by Laurie Keit for Coastviews Magazine.

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