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Vertical gardens keep popping up in San Francisco

April 5, 2010 | 12:21 pm

SFgardenshow

Anyone blitzing through the annual San Francisco Flower & Garden Show may have been left with the impression that when the Bay Area isn't planting Japanese maples or potting orchids, it's installing vertical gardens. The show seemed to be wall-to-wall green wall.

The event did hold a few other discoveries, which we'll feature in the weeks to come. But make no mistake: Living walls spoke most loudly, if not most eloquently, from the showroom floor in San Mateo. "The Living Room" installation pictured above consisted of 19,000 succulents, said its designers, James Pettigrew and Sean Stout of Organic Mechanics in San Francisco, organicmechanics@att.net. The exterior panels were made by a Michigan company called Bright Green USA, and the plants came from Succulent Gardens in Castroville, Calif., north of Monterey. Inside the structure, carved river rocks were aglow with LEDs. 

SFGardenShow_HabitatTaking a different approach: David Brenner, founder of the Bay Area-based Habitat Horticulture,  who said his living walls, pictured at right, were essentially hydroponic. Plant roots were immersed in a synthetic material that he likened to felt.

When I was passing by the booth, crowds had mobbed Brenner and were peppering him with questions about the variety of plants, which eschewed succulents in favor of more lush foliage and flowers.

SFGardenShow_HabitatDetailAfter the show closed March 28, I got in touch with Brenner, and he said the soil-free system provides more flexibility in design. "This allows us to paint the walls with plants and create a composition that has rhythm and flow," he said via e-mail. At right, a detail of the wall displayed at the show.

-- Craig Nakano

Photo credits, from top: Craig Nakano / Los Angeles Times; Habitat Horticulture; Habitat Horticulture.

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