Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Reason To Go To Paris

Musee du Quai Branly

I am fascinated by these vertical gardens in Paris that I have read about recently.  I think they are so gorgeous.  They were designed and planted by Patrick Blanc, a botanist and researcher, called the inventor of living walls.  He is best known for the living wall (le 'mur vegetal') he planted and designed on the Musee du Quai Branly in Paris, near the Eiffel Tower, and he has created living walls all over the world--London, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Berlin, and many more.  He was inspired to create these vertical gardens by the plants that thrive on wet vertical rock surfaces without any soil, and he designed his own patented system to mimic this on the walls of urban buildings.

Musee du Quai Branly

His system consists of a metal frame that supports PVC plates,  on which are stapled two layers of a polyamide felt. These layers mimic cliff- growing mosses and support the roots of many plants, without any soil at all. A network of piping provides water and nutrients for the plants to grow.  The solution flows down the wall and excess water is collected in a gutter at the bottom of the wall,  which is recirculated into the network of pipes--a closed circuit.

Another installation (below) on a formerly drab corner in the 2nd arrondissement of Paris features 236 different kinds of plants, covering 2700 square feet of an 83-foot concrete wall. I love how it was planted in a wave pattern across the wall.

Rue d'Aboukir, Paris

The walls are planted with mosses, campanulas, geraniums, heucheras, ferns, ivies, sages, shrubs such as hydrangea, viburnums, and honeysuckles, grasses, and even small trees at the top, all  interspersed on a base of thick mosses and liverworts. He starts out with smaller plants at the bottom and moves up the wall using larger plants.

And another living wall is at the Pershing Hotel in Paris, formerly the building of the American Legion in Paris. Love this. There's even a pharmacy in Paris with a living wall of medicinal plants. All good reasons to visit Paris. Closer to home, there are Patrick Blanc-designed living walls in Miami, New York's Botanical Garden, and Charlotte, NC. Time for a road trip!

Pershing Hotel (all images via Pinterest)