Sunday, September 18, 2011

Vertically Challenged

 Vertical wall by Patrick Blanc

Vertical wall by Patrick Blanc

Several years back on a trip to San Francisco, we visited a garden oasis on the outskirts of the city called Flora Grubb.  Eager to see some of the vertical gardens she was creating and selling, we poked around but were discouraged by the price.  Her space is beautiful and full of the most modern and innovative pieces in the gardening world.

Patrick Blanc

I noticed on her blog that she had just hosted someone I soon became enamored with- the creator of the Vertical Garden, Patrick Blanc.   Messieure Blanc creates verticle scapes that completely mask entire buildings in vegatative growth.  His work spans the globe and is visable on nearly every continent.  What more can I say, he is my idol.

Flora Grubb sells kits to make your own smaller more manageable version and has also been a pioneer in bringing these scapes in to fashion.

Inspired to create our version, we set out to find a way to do so.  While searching the internet, John happened across some little containers which looked suspiciously like those we had seen at Flora Grubb, yet at a fraction of the price.  Upon further investigation, he found they were discontinued- we suspect they might have been SO like those at Flora Grubb perhaps they had to stop making them.

With John's internet prowess  and determination he soon found 22 of them hiding at an secret location in the valley.  With no time to loose, he quickly purchased them for a song and gifted me a project, which should have been right up my green ally.

John measured, google sketch-uped, stained wood and created frames for the inserts.  I shopped for what I thought would be the most beautiful colors of sedum and succulents- finding different varieties at several locations.

Richmond Burton

 I needed an accomplice,  an artistic director with fantastic color sensibility.  Enter Richmond Burton, close friend, relative, and most of all amazing artist; who has recently located from New York to Los Angeles.

taking root

Over wine, music and progressing darkness we set to work creating colorful scapes draping bits of sedum and inserting bits of soil in the pockets for hours in to the late night.

I promised myself I would nurture and water the pieces as they lay for several weeks rooting and adjusting.

slow death

dying sedum

brown dying sedum

As summer progressed parts turned brown, grasshoppers were shooed away.  I replanted once more- this time a little more hastily.  More brown death discouraged me and I began to ignore the 22 black planters that were taking up most of our patio and crowding our lovely dining area.  Not to mention blocking us from sitting in our beautiful new outdoor patio furniture.  It became the bane of my afternoons.  I continued to water  but shame made me  keep the curtains closed.


simple kids paint brush and spoon

With the weather getting cooler and a new force of life (caffeine) coursing through my veins I was close to finishing.

 I am grateful for the project John gave me.  I am now using a spray bottle, paintbrush and silverware to be more precise.

My Masterpiece

Upon Closer Inspection

One planter hung and new heartier succulents from California Cactus  cascading down the wall.  We are nearly there.  I am feeling  proud and determined to see this through.