Last week I flew into Alberta expecting their usual June entertainment. Hot sunshine, rampant mosquitoes and evening lightning storms. The big sky & open prairies create that kind of excitement. I wasn’t expecting a touch of the tropics, but that’s what appeared before me at the Edmonton International Airport.
Even though family was waiting for me at arrivals, I just had to stop & check it out. Through the glass I could see the wall descended a 2nd full story down into another part of the airport. It was a massive living wall garden!
The lounge to the left of the glass was a lovely spot for passengers to relax while waiting to board their planes. It also allowed me the opportunity to walk up close to see if the plants were real. They were. 🙂
This particular wall was created by Mike Weinmaster of Green Over Grey, a company that builds green walls across North America. Apparently Mike has a Masters of Science in Environmental Engineering & Sustainable Infrastructure. It figures it would take some know-how for adding moist tropicals to a building’s wall without having it rot out & fall down in short order. 🙂
As it turns out, these are the same folk who created the world’s largest outdoor living wall on the library in Surrey (Vancouver). Some friends & I ran across that piece of public art shortly after it was planted in the fall of 2010 .
It has all sorts of drought tolerant native plants that typically thrive on rocky cliff sides with minimal soil. I figured it was smart to add the new plantings in autumn, after the stress of summer heat had passed. The new little guys were probably much happier getting acclimatized during the fall wet.
I’ve wanted to make a pilgrimage back there, to see how the vertical garden is surviving. Imagine the 3D effect of a short mat of wild strawberries, interspersed with oregon grape shrubs & grasses growing out from the wall itself. That’s depth & texture, eh?
A couple of months later, those same friends from the Vancouver trip discovered a small version of a biowall inside a little café in Victoria’s Atrium building. When I inquired, it turned out Green Over Grey created it as well. What wonderful botanical art!
Since then, I’ve been looking for a guest for our garden club to speak on creating a vertical garden. There are more projects showing up around town, but so far, folks are so busy building these plant walls, that I haven’t been able to get anyone to spare an evening for us. I can understand. These projects look pretty fun to me. I wouldn’t want distraction from my goal of completing one. 🙂
© SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life, 2013