Patrick Blanc

Botanist / Inventor Vertical Gardens

The invention and design of Vertical Gardens    

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The charismatic Patrick Blanc is the inventor of le mur vegetal or Vertical Garden - a low maintenance way of bringing greenery into urban environments. Along with the current crop of “urban” gardening practices (guerilla gardening, seed bombing, etc) Blanc’s urban installations have put the ‘non-spaces’ of cities to new uses.

These “living walls” are now a ubiquitous part of cities the world over, and many companies offer ready-made kits. However, Blanc’s designs use a suspended fabric layer fed with water and nutrients rather than pockets of hanging soil. He explains that whilst you might see plants growing vertically on a cliff face, you never see vertical dirt.

A researcher at the CNRS in Paris, Blanc applied his study of tropical plant growth in extreme environments to his first experiments in his apartment in the 1980s. Interestingly, it’s artificial materials and environments that make these permanent installations possible - non-biodegradable felts, piping and PVC sheeting form the surface on which plants can grow.

Halfway between the mythical Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the living reality of the rainforest, Blanc’s urban installations are rooted in historical and personal mythology. They may not have turned the garden upside down, but they’ve certainly made room for vertical growth.