Patrick Blanc is widely regarded as a great artist, a designer, and the inventor of the modern green wall; yet, I suspect he actually considers himself above all a scientist, a researcher, and nature’s investigator.
In 2005, with the completion of the new Musée du Quay Branly in Paris, terms such as “vertical garden” and “living wall”, until then a matter for botanists and landscape designers, became suddenly popular among the general public. The cause was indubitably the museum’s stunning planted facade designed by French botanist Patrick Blanc.
Blanc, after graduating and taking a Ph.D. in Natural Sciences in 1979, began working at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique as a scientist specialized in tropical plants, and making scientific expeditions as all respectable scientists do. His encyclopedic knowledge of plants is proverbial and, in 2011, Blanc discovered in the Philippines a new species of Begonia, the Begonia Blancii.
Nevertheless, his name is commonly associated with the design of vertical gardens – also known as green walls, living walls, and walls of living plants – as a pioneer and one of the most inventive professionals in this particular field of landscape design.
Blanc’s vertical garden system
Blanc invented his personal version of the vertical garden when he was still a teenager, intending to provide a biological water filtering system for his beloved aquariums. In 1988, he eventually patented an improved version of that early project. His first major project of a vertical garden was completed in 1986 at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie in Paris, but his idea did not arise much interest until 1994, when it started becoming a hot topic among gardening professionals; yet it was not until 2004 that it spread beyond specialists to reach a wider audience. The original idea of Blanc was “to have nature coming back in towns” and to do so he took inspiration from both tropical rainforests and high mountain environments, where many plants grow without or with a minimal amount of soil.
For more information about Patrick Blanc, visit his awesome website:
Remember that this year’s International Green Wall Day #GreenWallDay is on February 15th 2022, where we celebrate and highlight the beauty and environmental benefits of living walls, green walls, vertical gardens and vertical forests.