Sneaky snapshots

11 09 2009

I finally got up close and personal with Patrick Blanc’s creations – firstly the vertical garden at The Driver and then the Mur-Vegetal at The Athenaeum!
I’ve taken some great close-up pics of the plants and structure and hope it helps all you aspiring vertical gardeners…

cab and men square Athenaeum side athenaeum square

Although The Driver looks great from the outside, there’s no way of appreciating the wall up-close. Although they have a roof-terrace, it’s not in view of the wall. This is annoying for two reasons –

    1. I couldn’t take pictures (not good for us!)
    1. You only get to appreciate the wall when you’re NOT a customer (not good for the people who own The Driver!)
  • The following photos are therefore taken of The Athenaeum hotel near Hyde Park…

    Vertical wall pockets and plants

    The effect of the huge swathes of plant-life comes from having lots of small plants grouped together.
    New planter felt

    Patrick Blanc uses a felt layer stapled onto a 1cm thick pvc sheet which is attached to a metal frame.  The felt shown above looks really recent as once the wall is established the felt layer discolours as it’s constantly moist from soaking up the water and delivering to the plants and other parts of the felt.

    CU felt layer

    I’m not a felt expert but it looks like regular felt!

    On closer inspection you can see that there is a really thin layer of plastic behind the felt.  I’m not sure if this is behind the entire felt cover as surely that would affect the water-absorption?  Maybe it’s for strength or just to contain part of the rootball?  

    The intention is that the plants will use the felt instead of soil, although when peering inside one of the pouches i could see a small amount of soil.  This soil maybe from when the plant was transferred into the structure as Patrick says on his website that plants can either be from seed, cutting or already grown.

    drips and filter

    The felt allows the water to be soaked up and distributed.  The wall is kept constantly moist – as can be seen from the picture above – it was dripping continuously.  That water is then filtered and re-circulated through the arrangement.

    Pipes under felt

    I believe there is an elaborate piping system behind the felt and plastic layers.  There seems to be two main vertical pipes in the picture above and at least one horizontal just in the above section.

    This picture is of the top of a window.  I believe the silver container on the top left collects the drips and the pipe then connects this to the rest of the network.  As you can see the pipes are intended to be hidden so as not to distract from the display.

    The great thing about the felt is that over time it gets its own plant-life growing on it – moss, lichen etc and that greenery fills in the gaps where the plants may not have quite reached.

    I recommend you go see Patrick Blanc’s creation at The Athenaeum hotel.  The wall goes all the way down to ground level so you can get right up close to it and plan your own vertical garden!




    18 responses

    14 09 2009


    do we have any idea about that thick 10 mm PVC layer, i mean is it possible to buy it somewhere….
    is it really as simple as a layer of thick pvc and the felt….

    15 09 2009

    Hi Kenn –
    Having done a quick google on “PVC 10mm” i’ve found a few places that do it. I’m not 100% sure what type of board it is – you can get PVC foam board which goes to 10mm – which would be lighter than solid plastic.

    On Blanc’s site he states that the PVC layer is for waterproofing but also for the rigidity of the whole structure – which may mean that foam (although light) may not be a good idea…

    I would suggest making a trial framework – maybe just a metre square? – that you could experiment with different materials. See how easily you can attach things to each other and how much weight they can support.

    The materials are – on the surface – quite simple, but the skill would be ensuring a beautiful arrangement of plantlife and ensuring its longevity.

    I guess that’s why Mr Blanc has been doing this for quite a while!

    15 09 2009

    hey nat – you are are investigator plus…great shots ….. and explanation..gotta rush now but will re-read tonight.

    15 09 2009

    Thanks :)
    My background is research and journalism – definitely NOT gardening – so compliments from someone who has a background in this subject are warmly received!

    How are you doing in your search for a public space for your display?

    11 11 2009

    Hey HotNat.. I’ll write about this post for sure.. hopefully next week.

    13 11 2009

    Thanks Livingwall – please let me know when it’s published :)

    15 11 2009

    Hi HotNat.. it’s up..

    Let me know what you think or if I should change anything.

    18 11 2009

    It’s brilliant – i love it :)
    Apologies for commenting twice on it though – i didn’t realise the first one had gone through!

    I’m going to investigate some more spots in London over the next couple of weeks and will let you know when they’re up.

    16 11 2009
    Vertical Garden Guru

    Great post – love the up close photos of the vertical garden. Until now there have been very little photos. Well done.

    Vertical Garden Guru

    18 11 2009

    Thanks Guru! As i said to ‘livingwall’ – there’s a couple of other spots in London i wanna check out. I’ll attempt to get in there with my lens again!

    18 11 2009
    Vertical Garden Guru

    I have just done a similar investigation of the Patrick Blanc vertical garden at Melbourne central.

    24 11 2009
    Close-up View of Patrick Blanc’s vertical garden | Vertical Garden DIY

    […] Blanc’s vertical garden By Vertical Garden Guru Natalie Barrass from Hotspotting did a post on close up view of Patrick Blanc’s vertical garden at the Athenaeum Hotel near Hyde Park. […]

    24 11 2009
    Vertical Garden Guru

    My blog has been updated to show the close up view in Melbourne central. The felt looks like packing felt that removalists use.

    12 02 2010
    dave bockman

    Thank you so much for this series of photographs and descriptions, it makes understanding Mr. Blanc’s engineering process that much more easy! I found in my research that his system is unique, he actually holds a patent on certain aspects of the felts and PVC layering plus irrigation system techniques.

    If I could ask a tangential question, what temperatures generally speaking, does this part of London experience in the winter? The reason I ask is, I would like to implement living wall systems like Mr. Blanc’s here in the Washington, DC area, but I’m uncertain whether or not the plants could overwinter in our harsh climate.

    14 02 2010

    Hi Dave –
    He is quite protective over his invention – and quite rightly so, but i’m sure no-one could ever replicate it exactly how he does it.

    With regards to the climate in London – the current winter temperatures are COLD! We’ve had the coldest winter in 30 years and it’s been either freezing or below (in celsius) for a number of days at a time.

    I just checked online and apparently the average temperature for January would be between 44 and 35 degrees Fahrenheit. (1-6 degrees C)

    It would be interesting to see how his wall has coped with this cold snap – maybe this week i’ll swing by and get some snaps…

    14 02 2010
    dave bockman

    Thank you so much for your response HotNat I really appreciate it! That sort of investigation would be quite fascinating for me, I do hope you get the chance. I would be most keen to know about irrigation during this kind of weather…

    14 02 2010

    Interesting point – i hadn’t even considered the irrigation – i was more worried about the plants themselves!

    I think one of the fundamental things with the vertical garden is that it’s constantly irrigated – which may actually be the thing that saves it as the water’s always moving.

    I’ll be sure to let you know what i discover!

    28 06 2010
    Patrick Blanc’s closeup « Nori's Stuff

    […] is the inspiration for my plant wall.  In a search for new vertical garden stuff, I ran across this closeup of one of his projects. Comments […]

    Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

    You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

    Google+ photo

    You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


    Connecting to %s

    %d bloggers like this: