Vertical Gardening – Part 1: Patrick Blanc

I’m recirculating this post from a few years ago in order to provide some glimpses in my next post, of how things have evolved in the Vertical Wall field since. A minor industry has taken off within the landscaping field, including systems and hardware to make all of this simpler and more easily reproduced at home or on projects. The various failures have occurred to sharpen the techniques which always guide newer technologies.


Developments in irrigation sensor technology, irrigation in general and nutrient delivery systems have combined with innovative methods of providing fertile growing mediums in small spaces to uncap the possibilities of providing incredible small gardens as examples of living art amid organic air fresheners in the buildings and walls around us. The expansion of this field has been one of the most promising developments in all of recent landscaping and opens up an entire world of possibilities. Enjoy:


They had to be inevitable, Vertical Gardens, considering all the new stuff in gardening and landscaping – all the newly-discovered potentials in so many varied but congruent technologies and disciplines. The list of such technologies range from modern horticultural discoveries to irrigation technologies to – hardly least important! – waterproofing materials, thence to construction technologies in general.

So where do these modern developments lead us?

To here – Patrick Blanc’s marvelous vertical construction at the Caixa Forum, in Madrid, Spain, in 2007:

(click any images to enlarge when applicable)

madrid-green-wall-1 caixa developed

The picture above is the current version of this, at its origins:


The mind behind this gorgeous vertical garden is the preeminent designer and very seminal instigator of the field itself, one Patrick Blanc – his more than fascinating website accessible by hitting the link under his name. Blanc was an already-accomplished horticulturist – a scientist and something of a botanical genius. Blanc is affiliated with the CNRS (Centre National de Recherche Scientifique) and also won the French Society Award for Botany in 1993. In short, he knows what he is doing, and is also very good at adapting his genius to a project and then making these things work. Mr. Blanc has authored a fantastic book, chronicling his efforts, called Vertical Gardens – link to Amazon included in this link.

The book is very cool. He speaks of his own methods of trial and error, operating in a field to which he was naturally drawn in his fascination with the upright flora he had seen in his travels. He posts pictures such as the ones below which indicate why his curiosity was so piqued by the potential he saw in these natural sights:


And these, from the book itself, where waterfalls provide the constant moisture leading to such excessive and exquisite natural beauty:


A perusal of his website reveals other wonders, just fabulous renditions of his vision and it has inspired an entire and very burgeoning school of verticality in landscaping in just a few short years – a literal explosion of interest in the gorgeousness and the design potential inherent in such a new and overwhelmingly entertaining area. Here are just a few examples of this man’s exquisite art:



As one can see, there tend to be few limits on Vertical Gardening’s amazing promise. While Blanc’s incredible efforts are not entirely new – one does indeed suddenly acquire an almost instant desire to travel back in time to Babylon – Blanc has certainly acted as the seminal innovator and living advertisement for this intriguing field itself.

The practice and knowledge clustered around Vertical Gardening achieved a ‘critical mass’ in an exceptionally instant, no doubt Internet-driven accumulation of schools, products, certification programs since its recent explosion. And not much of this is a bad thing whatsoever. This is a wrinkle that requires a bit more than my pick up truck and a few shovels.

In part 2, we will visit these equally entertaining places and exhibitions of their results. Here’s one now – shown here at none other than the not-so-stuffy ASLA’s (American landscape Architect Association’s) own website – a picture from the entitled names below the shots.

Anything is possible!


10 thoughts on “Vertical Gardening – Part 1: Patrick Blanc

  1. It will get increasingly popular, in my opinion, just for all those very obvious reasons. I especially like what it offers fences.

  2. Hi Steve
    How fun to see your post. today I photographed Patrick’s new wall in San Francisco, which I’ve been writing about since it was planted in February. Blanc is using natives only for this new wall – a first!
    always fun to connect with you…
    .-= Alice’s Garden Travel Buzz´s last blog ..Vertical Gardens Revisited: Patrick Blanc in San Francisco =-.

  3. Wow, your pictures look fabulous – I look most forward to following all these projects as toime goes on. One can’t help but feel we are learning as we go.

  4. Dear Steve,
    I’ve never seen vertical gardening like this here in South Africa – except in nature! I wish I knew how to landscape like that!

    Your waterfall pictures are reminiscent of those in the Eastern Transvaal.
    .-= How to Landscape´s last undefined ..The version of CommentLuv on this site is out of date and will soon stop working. Please ask the webmaster to update their CommentLuv in the dashboard of this site! This version will continue to work for a few more weeks and then stop. =-.

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