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French Botanist’s Materpiece in Miami: Greening Your Aquascape with Vertical Gardens

Posted by on Monday, January 13th, 2014

Pérez Art Museum vertical garden

Patrick Blanc’s vertical garden at the Pérez Art Museum.
Image source: Inhabitat.com

Patrick Blanc is something of a legend in the world of gardening. Blanc is known as the father of vertical gardens after popularizing the concept in 1988 in Paris. Vertical gardens have since exploded in popularity, springing up on the sides of commercial buildings and private residences.

For a look at Blanc’s most recent verdant masterpiece, we have to head down to the Sunshine State where Blanc suspended six pillar-like tubes at the new Pérez Art Museum in Miami. The idea behind these unorthodox vertical columns is to convey the feeling that the building is integrated into the surrounding landscape. Blanc cleverly positioned the pillars in an open air space between the outside garden and the overhanging roof, so that it feels as though the plants are creeping downward from the ceiling like hanging vines, to form support columns for the building.

Vertical garden

The vertical garden integrates the building into its surrounding landscape.
Image source: Paulatiberius.com

The intense Miami weather posed a few challenges for this legendary French botanist. The intense sun, salty sea air, and occasional hurricane meant that Blanc had to design a vertical garden that could withstand anything Florida could throw at it. The outside of the columns are dotted with light-loving plants that can endure hour after hour under direct sunlight, while the plants facing the building prefer a bit more shade. Blanc also implemented a system wherein water trickles down the columns from the ceiling. This ensures that the plants have a constant source of fresh (rather than salty) water, and it has the added benefit of keeping the Miami heat at bay.

So, why am I talking about hanging gardens in an aquascaping blog? Because aquascapes and gardens go together like two peas in a vertically hanging pod. Just imagine, for a moment, how beautiful it would look if the pillars were suspended above a professionally crafted aquascape, complete with lush green plantlife and vibrant goldfish. The water from the ceiling would gradually trickle down the columns before dripping into the pond below, capturing the feeling of a natural garden infused with life after an invigorating rainstorm.

The Front of the Pérez Art Museum

The vertical garden on the front of the Pérez Art Museum.
Image source: Publicbroadcasting.net

There are nearly endless combinations for aquascapes and vertical gardens. For example, you could flip the aquascape and vertical garden around to put the aquascape on top. With that layout, you could have an elevated aquascape that constantly overflows down one of its sides to supply the vertical garden below with life-giving water.

Personally, I’m in love with the idea of installing vertical aquascapes within vertical gardens. Picture a lush vertical garden that holds several puddle-like aquariums supported by branch-like protrusions from the vertical wall. It reminds me of the tropical rainforest, where the enormous trees and heavy rainfall sometimes allow for puddles to form in the bowl-shaped irregularities of the branches in tree canopy. These sky-high puddles form miniature ecosystems that support tree frogs, insects, birds, and other exotic creatures.

Patrick Blanc's Vertical Garden

Patrick Blanc’s vertical garden gives us inspiration for our aquascapes.
Image source: Inhabitat.com

Alternatively, you could always combine the two concepts to create an aquascape that contains a vertical garden. Rather than displaying ferns and flowers, your aquatic vertical garden would showcase an exotic collection of gently swaying underwater plants, or a colorful array sea coral.

What are your thoughts? How does Blanc’s artwork inspire you to bring more natural beauty into your home?

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