Patrick Blanc’s Living Fresco

8 Feb

Fresh-smelling art: a visitor takes in a lush, botanical mosaic by Patrick Blanc.

With spring right around the corner, we decided to check in on Tacoma’s most intriguing green spot, the ever astonishing vertical garden by Paris-born artist Patrick Blanc. Installed in 2009 to great fanfare, the 800-sq. ft. plantscape on the eastern wall of Tacoma Goodwill headquarters is a living, breathing curiosity – a figment of the feverish imagination of the French artist/botanist who introduced the soil-less art form 30 years ago. The 20′ x 40′ canvas represents an ongoing drama with nearly 100 species of hearty native and non-native plants that grow, flourish and die off in dynamic waves of color. Hummingbirds are attracted; so are birds, bees and people. The standing garden has more than a dash of the surreal about it – after rugged winter weather killed off portions of foliage exposing the algae-covered vertical surface underneath, the verdant wall now resembles nothing so much as a perfect rectangle cut from the wild ocean floor and turned on its side.

Blanc is a world-renowned artist whose large-scale botanical murals can be seen in Madrid, London, Sydney, Paris, New York City and Istanbul. The green installation in Tacoma is his first exterior environmental project on US soil. In coming months, the wall will bloom with vibrant pink sedum, creeping juniper, andromeda, hellebores, warty barberry and various ferns and shrubs. We’ll be back.

Patrick Blanc’s vertical garden is at 714 South 27th Street in Tacoma.

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