Behind the Scenes: terrain's Living Wall


For a fall event at our headquarters, terrain Landscape's Fine Gardening team created a remarkable installation-- the gorgeous Greenwall above. Transforming an unused building on our campus into a blooming focal point, we're thrilled that this beautiful garden is now a permanent part of our landscape. We recently caught up with two people who brought the wall to life, nursery manager Greg O. and plant buyer Karen C., to learn more about how the project came together.

Greg O. tells us, "terrain's Creative Director, Greg Lehmkuhl, designed the Greenwall. He envisioned a harvest wall that would be at its most colorful during the event at the end of September. It's composed of 36 individual hayrack planters, arranged in 12 rows of three. A faux moss fabric lines the baskets to hold the soil, a potting mix from Organic Mechanics. Karen did a brilliant job of choosing and sourcing the plants to be used."

On selecting the plants, Karen says, "The living wall project was complicated, as it was planted in mid-August but needed to look incredible by late September. I had to predict what would look amazing six weeks after buying, and beyond. Once my initial assortment of plants was selected, I edited by visually arranging them in a collage, making sure that there was enough variety in color, texture, size, and attribute (flowering, foliage, grass, upright vs. hanging, etc.). Finally, I removed the plants that wouldn't look good throughout the late fall and winter, since the wall won't be replanted until spring."

Fall foliage color and plants with winter interest like stems and dried flower heads were key to Karen's choices. She adds, "I didn’t choose any “traditional” evergreen plants like juniper; while they’d provide color and form over the winter, they wouldn’t add much to the design during the earlier stages and they’re generally slow-growing-- we were looking for plants that would really fill out the space quickly."

After the plants were chosen, terrain's Fine Gardening team began constructing the wall. Greg tells us, "A planting of this scale needs to be approached as one unit, rather than 36 individual planters or 12 rows; the plants needed to be placed strategically for a cohesive look overall. We used a wide lift so that three members of our team-- Deana D., Jen Z., and Susan D.-- could reach the installation with a workable number of plants. I stayed on the ground to direct from the vantage point of observers. First, we placed high-impact plants with strong colors and bold textures, then filled in with smaller plants. Throughout the process, we were always considering not just what looked strong at the moment, but what would look great in a month or so after things filled out. Horticultural knowledge came in handy for this! Finally, fertilizer was applied and an irrigation system was added."

Now that it's completed, Karen describes the wall as "a tapestry of shrubs, grasses, flowering and foliage perennials, and annuals." There’s even an edible in the mix because it adds great texture (Kale ‘Winterbor’). She says, "Right now, the asters are in bloom with a gorgeous purple-blue color. Over the next few weeks the Amsonia and Oakleaf Hydrangea will become the stars when their foliage hits its peak with bright yellow and ruby red colors, respectively. The wall constantly shifts as certain things turn color and become more prominent, while other plants fade and recede back visually; it’s fun to walk by every week or so and see what’s starting to pop."

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