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By Francesca Filanc, for Let’s Talk Plants! June 2023.

The Olivenhain Garden Club made living wall boxes one year with the help of one of our husbands and a girlfriend from another garden club.

Editor’s note: How timely is this article for those of us lucky attendees of the recent 2023 Garden Tour that enjoyed seeing the living wall growing at one of the stops on the tour? The vertical wall garden on the tour was a collaboration between Ricardo Marinho and Amelia B. Lima.

“A green wall is a smart way to have a lush yet eco-friendly garden by recirculating runoff water.”
This vertical garden seen on the 2023 Garden Tour is a perfect solution for this narrow side yard. The dining room and kitchen both look onto this area that now features a 260 square foot garden home to a combination of soilless epiphytes and lithophytes that create a living mosaic of color.

Living Walls

Living wall in Madrid, Spain.

The author with her daughter in front of the Madrid living wall. Photo credit: Francesca Filanc.

Several years ago, while in Madrid with my family, we experienced the most beautiful living wall on the side of a building near the Museum of Modern Art.

I was so excited because the Olivenhain Garden Club had made living wall boxes with the help of one of our husbands and a girlfriend from another garden club. You can read the article that I wrote on the subject on the blog of my website.

Oakland International Airport/Kaiser Permanente living wall.

Several years ago, I was thrilled to see the Kaiser Permanente living wall at Oakland International Airport! They do an amazing job. Many times, it is hard to keep all the plants thriving and alive, but they obviously have the technique down. I fly in and out of Oakland airport often to see my kids in the bay area. I remember the joy I felt seeing the greenery when I started flying again after the pandemic, while in the long line for security coming home from being with the family. I still always wear a mask and I have noticed that they have added signs that are so uplifting and calming.

“Just Breathe” ...

... is one of them. I smile as I read the signs with every turn of the long line.

There are a group of buildings in La Jolla’s Golden Triangle where they have vegetable gardens growing for the cafeteria and people can enjoy eating and looking at the vegetables that are being used in the delicious lunches that you can buy.

Plants add so much to the calming of humans, which is good for our physical health and mental health.

When you travel this summer, I hope you get the opportunity to see some of these living walls around our country and world. I know it will calm you and bring a smile to your face.

This painting by Francesca Filanc is aptly named "Joy", and it looks like a living wall .

Happy Gardening!

~ Francesca


Artist, author, photographer, fly-fisher woman, Francesca Filanc grew up in old Del Mar and these days lives, paints and gardens in historic Olivenhain with two dogs.

Find her art and writings here:

She can be found on social media here:

Have gardening questions or want to learn more about Francie’s art? Contact:


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