Monday, May 24, 2010

Urban walls and planters

I’ve come across an interesting collection of garden walls and planters recently. It all started with this one at the AIA Center for Architecture in the Pearl District (Portland). I’m such a sucker for metal…
The plants are not all that inspiring, but it doesn’t matter…the rusted metal and dark painted brick carry this show.
Cement block and stucco are other favorite materials. I saw this out of the corner of my eye cruising by at 40 mph and had to turn around to get a better look.
I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. I love the wall…with the peek-a-boo squares; it’s the iron bits that I’m not sure about.
But no doubt about it, I love their choice of plant material, Horsetail rush. Contained by cement it can’t possibly get out of hand right? And these folks are serious about keeping it upright…they’ve ran strands of plastic filament to keep each of them in check.
It's no secret, I do love stock tank planters. This one set on the sidewalk unplanted for months. I’ve lost track of how long it sat there. Since it’s next to a restaurant I thought they might fill it with herbs, or veggies. Nope.
The shocking turquoise wall called out for some striking plants, like this Opuntia. I have to say it…this combo is just yummy. Yummy.
The lime-green Sedum rupestre 'Angelina' is also a nice contrast to the wall color.
I drive buy this cute little house after leaving one of my favorite nurseries. The small retaining wall in the lawn, painted to match the house, is a nice touch.
Around back they have a privacy wall surrounding their patio.
I really wanted to peek through one of those windows to see what the patio looked like. But that just seemed a little rude.
I did stand just to the side of one of the windows to capture this image…don’t you just love how the wavy trunks inside the wall mirror the wavy metal?
The last wall is really more of a fence, although fences generally keep people out, animals in, or some combination of that sort. With its large gaps this one doesn’t fulfill that prerequisite. Maybe it’s a screen?
It does establish a boundary and give a sense of enclosure to the front patio.
And it seems to be successfully keeping the Tetrapanax out!


  1. I love these photos! Especiall the AIA place!

  2. Nice collection of materials. I really like the AIA planters -is that trachelospermum that's vining up the supports? If so, I'm very jealous: mine were severely whacked by winter and are only now coming back, but theirs look healthy and robust.
    I also like the metal screens in the last shots. The design is great, but a little unusual with the house style that shows. And that bare patio is asking for some danger garden-style potted plants!

  3. Saw the AIA planters before they were planted, and I must say that I anticipated something much more, well, architectural...and daring...but I agree: the planter carries the day.

  4. So many good walls. It seems it would be impossible to resist peeking in the windows of the pink wall - they're so inviting.

  5. Patricia C, Portland ORMay 25, 2010

    Cool stuff. We looked at that pink house in the before stage, before the respray and before Megan bought her house. It looks great, doesn't it.

    There's also a ranch on about 47th & Siskiyou where they've used interesting industrial-looking planters for bamboo. I keep meaning to take a picture, but as soon as I get home from my walk, that idea has flown the coop.

  6. Stunning walls and planters! Love the rusted metal against the plantings!

  7. AnonymousMay 25, 2010

    Hi Loree~~ This just proves the subjectivity of art. Such variation evokes emotions probably as diverse as each of the creators.

    The peekaboo squares remind me of a prison and the fleur de lis, iron topdressing enhances the "castle" look--too many themes bisecting my brain. I kind of like the Horsetail though.

    Love the peach colored stucco "abode." The attention to detail is evident and tasteful. The green lawn and trees makes it all the nicer.

    Thanks again for the tour. As always, immensely enjoyable!!

  8. Mary C, thank you!

    MulchMaid, I wish I could tell you what it is that's growing in the AIA planters but I haven't a clue! And I agree about the house style and empty photo in the last pic...I've looked for some sign of life there for ages but never see any.

    ricki, oh that's a good one! You're right, they really missed a chance to come up with an architectural planting!

    Megan, but once you see something you shouldn't have you can't ever unsee it.

    Patricia, you've been inside? I LOVE that house. Thanks for the 47th & Siskiyou tip, I'll have to check it out.

    Laura, thanks!

    Grace, oh I love the positive and negative comparison!

  9. I'm a blog reading slacker... I love the stock tank planter. The turquoise makes it all work. Promise to go back in four months to take pictures? I want to see it in a year too :) I'm curious to see how the horsetail fills out too. I like it against the wall. Never seen the string trick before.

  10. AnonymousMay 26, 2013

    Where is the one with the turquoise wall behind it?

    1. Are you talking about the wall in this post?


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