Did you know that some plants don't need soil to sprout and grow? They can cling to trees, or exist entirely in a soil-less state. This has allowed landscape artists around the world to create amazing feats of foliage for hotels, museums, storefronts, bars, and restaurants.
Here, the best places to get your green on.
The Athenaeum Hotel in London, England
Designed by Patrick Blanc and installed in 2009, this massive creation made with both indigenous and exotic plants grows from the street to the hotel's 10th-floor penthouse. The result is not only welcoming, but also gives the hotel a fluffy, touchable appearance. (We've never wanted to pet a hotel before!)
Hotel Icon in Hong Kong
It's hard to pick a favorite, but this might be it for us. Swooping through the open, airy Green restaurant and curving into the reception area, where it towers behind the front desk staff, this wall is a massive, undulating, living art form. It was also designed by Patrick Blanc, and it spans a staggering 54 feet with more than 8,000 plants. In the hustle, bustle, concrete, and congestion of busy Hong Kong, this is an indoor escape.
Old Glory in Nashville, TN
The 1920s buildings that make up Edgehill Village, a new dining and shopping development, retain their old-time charm but have been updated with artful details. At its new cocktail bar, Old Glory, the thirsty come for Southern classics like mint juleps and stiff bourbons in an exposed-brick space with 60-foot ceilings. The high windows flood the space with natural light and create a perfect atmosphere for the plant wall, which grows four stories above the crowds below.
Hotel Hugo in New York City, NY
You get a two-for-one here. The 15-foot vertical wall behind reception is set in glass, creating an interesting terrarium look; the second living wall, in the hotel's Il Principe restaurant, rises behind an 8-person table with greenery of all shades. The actual plants are beset by photography of plants, creating fun play on dimensions.
The American Tea Room in Los Angeles, CA
Plants are calming. That was the idea behind this hydroponic wall with cascading bright foliage, with Medusa and Staghorn ferns dripping over variegated spider plants and philodendron. Only soap-based, organic pesticides are used, and the roots of the plants are housed in burlap pouches. Copper tubes supply fertilizer and microbursts of water, tended to by a technology that measures light and temperature.
Salone Nico at The Thompson Hotel in Chicago, IL
The restaurant team here counts botany on their to-do list every day to maintain this living wall inside the Salone Nico bar. The vertical garden features over 2,000 plants, including pothos, spider plants, philodendron, and dracaena. There is, perhaps, no better backdrop for drinking a mojito.
The Conservatory Food Hall in Houston, TX
As you descend into to Houston's newest food hall—located in a former theater space beneath the ground—you'll feel as though you are under a garden, thanks to this wall which stretches above the stairs and wrought iron railings. The plants here take on a more wild appearance, with tangles of vines and errant small flowers blooming. Below it, you'll find a world of flavors—from
artisan coffee to Texas barbecue to Parisian street crepes.
Café de la Playa at Nizuc Resort in Cancun, Mexico
Designated gardeners are employed to keep this al fresco restaurant installation in perfect condition. The bright greenery mostly hails from Mexico, and the plants are trimmed to be different lengths across the 25-foot wall, giving it an undulating appearance. Set against the brilliant blue sky, it's a living piece of Pop Art.
SFMOMA in San Francisco, CA
The brand new home for the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco now offers America's largest, public vertical garden designed by Habitat Horticulture. With nearly 20,000 plants stretching over 150 feet, it's an ever-evolving work of art. It can be enjoyed from the windows above the museum, as well as physically touched from outside. The best part? The wall is fed mostly by recycled storm water and excess condensation from the HVAC system at the museum.