Meet the Man Behind the Wall

An 86-foot long vibrant stretch of greenery mixes lush foliage with purple, pink and white flowers, evoking a sense of spring or summer greets guests at Bay Meadows. Planted one year ago to attract bees and butterflies with edible lavender and native plants like wild strawberries and fragrant Yerba Buena, the green wall—which was designed to be moveable—will eventually be converted into one of the many permanent green spaces at Bay Meadows. Meet the man behind California’s largest living wall, David Brenner, founder of Habitat Horticulture:

What inspired you to begin a career in horticulture?

I realized the therapeutic effects of plants at an early age while  watering and caring for  my grandparents plants each summer, I don’t know what it was but I just felt calmer around the plants.  From then on, I always had an affinity for plants and decided to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Horticultural Sciences at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

Describe the philosophy behind the design of the living wall at Bay Meadows:

More than just creating a lush vertical garden to provide visual interest throughout the year,  the underlying philosophy of the design was to engage the community. Being a Welcome Center, I wanted the wall to appeal to all the senses and invite the community to take a closer look. The design composition sprung out of the Bay Meadows theme of  “Life in Motion”, the plant swathes flow across the wall, providing a sense of movement when viewed from afar. This sense of movement and energy is further accentuated by grass like species (Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’ – Variegated Japanese Sedge and Acorus gramineus ‘ogon’ – Variegated Golden Sweetflag) which dances in the wind for as an homage to the meadow.  As you get closer, you are greeted with the sweet fragrances of Geranium, the regional native Yerba Buena and mint which the community is encouraged to harvest.

The Wall Turns One!
On Saturday, April 12 you are invited to celebrate the 1st Birthday of the Living Wall at Peace, Love and Green. Did we mention there will be cake? Lots of cake.  Get your tickets today.

David Brenner 2

We’ve heard you’ll be serving up moss milkshakes, on the hour – every hour at Bay Meadows Peace, Love and Green event on April 12th. Tell us a little about what we might expect from Habitat Horticulture that day:

Yes, moss milkshakes all around!  But for clarification, they are not for consumption! We are going to mix up some dried moss, buttermilk and splash of beer to make mini moss vertical gardens that you can take home with you. The buttermilk and beer provides sustenance to the moss and if kept moist, in about 6 weeks, this slurry will come to life; creating a lush vertical moss painting.

Where do you find inspiration for your living creations? The natural world never seems to run out of exquisite and mind boggling color combinations and patterns.

Some of our residents have expressed the desire to build a mini version of the living wall for their homes. What 4 pieces of advice or tips would you give them? Find a good location,  invest in an irrigation system, know your plants and be patient!

Just for Fun 

Growing up I dreamed of being: A scientist

If a single plant could represent our community, which would we be? Yerba Buena

The person I’d most like to collaborate with on a project is David Attenborough.  Actually I’d just like to hang out with him for a day.

3 favorite SF Bay Area “must see” plant destinations are: Filoli Gardens, Mt. Tamalpais and San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers.

The best advice anyone ever gave me is: From saying it to doing it, there is an ocean between them.  It sounded better when my grandmother told me in Italian: “Tra il dire e il fare c’e di mezzo il mare.”

3 words I’d use to describe Bay Meadows are: Welcoming, Community and Sunny.

One of my favorite SF Bay Area shops for bringing the outdoors in would be: Flora Grubb Nursery

Fame x Frame Photo Contest: Share your mobile photography with us and WIN
As we develop community, we want to see how you live or play at Bay Meadows. Share your fun lifestyle photos with our community by using #baymeadowslife. You could WIN $50 or our Grand Prize of $500 at the end of 2014 and be featured in a live pop-up gallery exhibit event.

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