If you wander through the Montreal Botanical Garden this summer, you’ll find furrow-browed gorillas peering in the footprints, a row of ring-tailed lemurs walking down the street and enormous red cranes towering above you.
It’s not an intrusion in the zoo — it’s mosaiculture, a type of horticultural art as wild as it sounds. Mosaiculture designers set up carefully chosen and pruned plants onto 2- and three-dimensional designs, creating enormous and surprisingly functional living sculptures. Within this exhibit visitors walk along a 2-kilometer (11/4-mile) path to see that the work of 50 participants in over 20 countries. Each designer worked with a set plant catalog to sculpt something from his or her country’s culture.
Info: Mosaïcultures Internationales Montréal 2013: Land of Hope, Montreal Botanical Garden; June 22 to September 29, 2013; available daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m; $10 to $28
The Man Who Planted Trees
Mosaïcultures Internationales de Montréal
This mosaiculture pays tribute to a shepherd at a fable who planted trees on a desolate piece of land, turning it into forests and fields.
Small Clownfish and Anemone
A clownfish and anemone mosaiculture out of Okinawa signifies humanity’s symbiotic relationship with nature.
All in a Row
Madagascar’s mosaiculture shows off among the island’s indigenous, iconic and endangered animals: the ring-tailed lemur.
Hachiko, the Loyal Dog
Tokyo’s sculpture of Selaginella kraussiana and welded metal honors the famous Akita named Hachiko, who waited loyally for his master at the train station for 10 years.
Mosaïcultures Internationales de Montréal
Mother Earth is, of course, accountable for the entire show. This massive mosaiculture has planted mountains for a bull hopping round the figure’s outstretched hand.
A True Story
Shanghai’s tribute to Xu Xiu Juan — who devoted her life into the red crown crane — towers over visitors.
Borneo’s lifelike orangutan of carex grasses hangs from a tree at the playground.
All of the planet’s 4,000 wild freshwater live in Southeast Asia, including Thailand. The nation honored this wild monster with this sculpture.
Republic of Guinea
Giant chimps peer from banana plants in the Republic of Guinea’s mosaiculture.
A beige grey underbelly takes focus to this frog, made from the Atlanta Botanical Garden in honor of its gopher frog restoration program.
Planting Plane Trees to Attract the Phoenix
Mini flowering begonia plants include flashes of red to the phoenix’s plumage in Beijing’s mosaiculture, inspired by an ancient Chinese legend.
Gorillas at Risk
Uganda’s impressive gorilla mosaicultures call attention to the nation’s Virunga mountain gorilla population — that the sole mountain gorilla population on the planet.
Want to make your own mosaiculture? The scale and upkeep needs of mosaicultures like these are not usually suitable for residences. Installations like this require need strong plants, a constant way to water them along with a sturdy base structure.
But techniques from living walls can be applied to mosaiculture-style designs for a similar look at home. Bill Thompson, garden designer and living wall expert, suggests beginning with a high-quality potting soil, a strong planting module along with a drip-through irrigation method.
Thompson’s living wall art tips: Cactus potting mix functions for nearly every application. Its sandy texture compacts nicely and drains well. Succulents work well because of their compact growing customs, colour and sun adaptability, and wide range of colors and textures. Small ferns, ivies and other crops with compact foliage are ideal to unethical setups.Select plants in two- to 4-inch pots. Once planted, they’ll disperse and fill in your design.Get a little crazy with your design. “Have fun with it,” says Thompson. “It’s like painting with crops” If you have selected your plants correctly and have the perfect irrigation, a living wall won’t require much upkeep (unlike a genuine mosaiculture, which necessitates continuous pruning and watering). Choose plants that will get enough light or shade where you can put them , and prune occasionally to maintain your design clean. You may even remove and replace the crops if they get too big. More: Find vertical garden constructions at the Products section.