Walls in the Bay Area and beyond are coming to vibrant life, thanks to Habitat Horticulture, whose vertical gardens have popped up in both residences and spaces like Salesforce Tower, California Academy of Sciences and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Founder David Brenner, a living-wall pioneer in the U.S., talked with Luxe about going green. habitathorticulture.com
What sparked the idea for Habitat Horticulture form? While studying horticulture at Cal Poly, I did an apprenticeship at the Royal Botanic Gardens in London. I was working at this tropical nursery called Kew Gardens, with plants that grow naturally on trees and rock faces— epiphytic plants. At the same time, I saw vertical gardens while traveling in Europe and was blown away. It’s like a huge billboard that provides an ecosystem and an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. I went back to Cal Poly and began prototyping the system that we use today.
You also studied psychology. How does that apply? There’s something about plants that makes you feel calm. Through my environmental psychology classes, I found that there was all of this research to prove that. It’s something that was inherent to our evolution. So how do we bring greenery into our everyday lives?
How do you choose plantings and design? I start with the texture. Every plant has its own character. Maybe the new growth in the springtime will be bronze and you’ll see this swath of reddish tone coming through the wall. It’s like an orchestra throughout the year of things flowering and taking center stage while other things are becoming dormant.