Gardening goes vertical at Drew School

Naturally they’ll have a green living roof on the new eco-conscious assembly building now nearing completion behind Drew School at California and Broderick Streets. But they’ll also have a vertical garden created by Parisian botanist-artist Patrick Blanc — a rock star among gardeners credited with inventing the concept and planting gardens on walls around the world.

Blanc was in the neighborhood recently to unveil Drew’s new vertical garden, which consists of thousands of plants that are all native California species. First the dirt was removed from the roots of the plants, then they were stapled to a three-story felt wall that is automatically watered several times daily. The 1,720 sq. ft. garden — Blanc’s largest in the U.S. — faces Broderick Street and is visible from the sidewalk.

“What was very interesting for me,” Blanc said, “it was a school much involved in artistic work. For me, it was important to have receptive students for a new kind of work with plants.”

Blanc spoke to students about the project and also lectured to a sold-out crowd at the Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park, which has its own living roof. The firm that completed the academy’s roof is also creating a 2,630 sq. ft. green roof on the school’s new building.

Read more: “The Dirt

The vertical garden (left) is on a new wing that replaces a three-story Victorian.