Many people look forward to summer’s end for it means a period of slower growing grass that doesn’t need frequent mowing and trees that won’t need to be pruned. Others look toward autumn as a time to plant cold-weather flora or to lay down the foundations of next summer’s garden. Me, I think of summer’s end as a time to let the last tomatoes rot in the vine while I hole up inside trying to adjust to the change in temperature, but I’m a weenie like that.
But if you’re the French botanist Patrick Blanc, you never stop looking for new opportunities to dig down into the dirt. Or upside down into the dirt. Or even sideways into the dirt like he must have done to create the recently completed facade for the Athenaeum hotel in London.
What is it, exactly? It’s an eight-story antigravity forest composed of 12,000 plants from 260 species and covering more than 15,000 square feet. Most are evergreen, but some of the plants are seasonal, and the placement of each piece of foliage was carefully planned to ensure that all the plants get just the right amount of sun.
Blanc uses a kind of techno-trellis as the underlying structure: A plastic-coated aluminum frame is fastened to the wall and covered with synthetic felt into which plant roots can burrow. A custom irrigation system keeps the felt moist with a fertilizer solution modeled after the rainwater that trickles through forest canopies.
Like the look of vertical gardens? Then DIY your own!