Monday, April 23, 2012

If you live in the New York Metropolitan Area and you are a Francophile, I hope you had a chance to see the Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Garden -- the exhibit closed yesterday and I (finally) saw it on Saturday.  Frenchman Patrick Blanc was the guest of honor at the Orchid Show this year, and if you don't already know he is internationally renowned for the invention of something called the vertical garden, which is one of the most amazing creations I've ever seen. 

Blanc devised a way to grow particular plants horizontally, without soil, indoors or outdoors, on surfaces of varying sizes.  The concept is hard to visualize unless you're looking at it (the photo above, from a revised and updated edition of Blanc's book, really doesn't do the creation justice), and I apologize that I'm not including any photographs of the exhibit's vertical walls in this post but I (stupidly) didn't bring my camera to the NYBG on Saturday and the photos on Blanc's website -- -- are protected (there are lots of other photos on the Web but I feel it's right to use them unless I can credit the photographer).  But check out Blanc's site and be prepared to be amazed!  See also a fascinating article about Blanc and his work in the Spring 2012 issue of France Magazine.  As writer Amy Serafin notes in her article, "A single wall can boast hundreds of species in infinite shades of green, with different shapes and patterns.  Each plant is selected to suit that particular environment."

In Paris alone there are more than 25 vertical gardens, including at the Musee du Quai Branley, BHV Homme, the Cartier Foundation, Six Senses Spa, and the Club Med offices.  I would say that going to see one is most definitely vaut le detour!  But if you can't get to Paris for a while, the new book mentioned above might suffice until you can: The Vertical Garden: From Nature to the City (Patrick Blanc, Norton, April 2012).  Or, check out the Patrick Blanc projects in Miami, Charlotte, Racine, Tacoma, New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.  Fabulous!

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