Look! Tillandsia Wall Garden at the Bardessono Hotel

Look! Tillandsia Wall Garden at the Bardessono Hotel

Susie Nadler
Feb 19, 2009

There are so many things we love about vertical gardens: they're aesthetically stunning, living works of art; they're environmentally friendly, requiring less water than traditional gardens; and they make perfect sense for urban small space-dwellers. The tillandsia wall at the new Bardessono Hotel in Yountville takes all three of these concepts to new extremes. A collaborative effort from three local designers—garden designer Flora Grubb; her fiancé, builder Kevin Smith; and architect Seth Boor—the tillandsia wall has an otherworldly quality that sets it apart from anything we've seen before. Details of the project and more photos after the jump…

Originally, the Bardessono approached Flora requesting a vertical garden, but she quickly discovered there wasn't adequate drainage. Together, she and Kevin and Seth came up with these tillandsia walls, which fill four alcoves in the hotel lobby. Tillandsias are epiphytes, which means that their roots grow in the air rather than soil, and all they need in the way of water is weekly misting. Each garden requires only a half-gallon of water every time it's misted; since Bardessono is platinum LEED-certified, the tillandsias were a perfect green choice.

Eight hundred tillandsias were used in the project. Seth devised a way of clipping the plants to metal rods that protrude from the walls—that way, it's easy to change out the plants if they're looking less-than-perky.

At first the designers thought they'd pack the plants together tightly, but soon they realized that giving each plant a little space would highlight their unique growth patterns. We agree with Flora that the result looks a bit like sea creatures or fireworks. The New York Times, in today's piece about the garden, compared the effect to a Victorian collector's cabinet of curiosities. Indeed, we could imagine mulling over these beauties for hours at a time.

See more large-scale pics at thigmotrope.com.

Photos: Kevin Smith

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