Tracy A. Marciano: Spring Emerges with Patrick Blanc’s Vertical Gardens

The New York Botanical Gardens delivers an incredible orchid show every year that offers a plethora of visual excitement. This year a unique twist was added by Patrick Blanc who created a vertical garden with orchids. For those who may not be familiar with his work, the French botanist and artist is one of the preeminent designers of vertical gardens and living walls around the world.

The Orchidacea, commonly known as the orchid, has roots tethered to Greek mythology. According to the myth “Orchis, the son of a nymph and a satyr, came upon a festival of Dionysis in the forest. After he drinking too much he attempted to attack a priestess of Dionysis. For his insult, he was torn apart by the Bacchanlians. His father prayed for him to be restored, but the god instead changed him into a flower.”

The orchid is also known for its scent but dried seed pods are often used as flavoring in baking, perfume and aromatherapy. They have also been used in traditional herbal remedies in China since around 2,800 BC.

Blanc shifted traditional horticulture from a horizontal plane to a vertical plane. The recalibrated idea of horticulture subsequently evolved into living walls and gardens which have become vital in the era of sustainable living, especially in smaller urban areas where horizontal space is limited. One of his most distinguished works is “Le Mur Vegetal” (pictured) which was cultivated on the side of Jean Nouvel’s Musee du quai Branly in Paris.

The show runs through April 22, 2012. The New York Botanical Garden website offers information about lectures, tours and other public programming about the exhibit. Its worth the trip outside of Montclair to see it!

Tracy A. Marciano is currently pursuing a second master’s degree in Landscape Design at Columbia University in New York focusing on therapeutic landscapes and vertical gardens. See her work here

Photo credit: Lloyd Alter (

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