Silver Lake’s Vertical Garden to get yanked down

The vertical garden that was planted along the walls of a former Silver Lake hair salon has yellowed and withered as a new tenant has decided against tending the thousand of plants growing on the sides of the building. Barnaby Montgomery, owner of Yummy.com, which will be opening a grocery store  in the building at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Griffith Park boulevards, said the garden consumes too much water, 40,000 a gallons a month to be exact.  “At the suggestion of a member of the [Silver Lake] Neighborhood Council, we will grow fig ivy on the walls to soften the look and feel of the building, and to help insulate the building from the sun,” Montgomery said.

The garden was planted more than two years ago by a hair salon owner who had envisioned wrapping the building in a blanket of living plants. An estimated 20,000 seedlings – from succulents to Scotch Moss  – and handfuls of soil were inserted into slits cut into thick fabric attached to the walls. A network of pipes under that fabric irrigated the garden. But the garden proved difficult to maintain and large sections of the walls were never planted, leaving behind tattered flaps of fabric and plastic to begin peeling from the sides of the building.

Montgomery said a deadline for opening the new grocery store has not yet been scheduled.


  1. Good move. Not really practical in this climate.

  2. Bummer. I’d opt for something other than fig ivy though. That plant can be really invasive, aggressive, and difficult to kill once it’s rooted.

  3. That last comment sounds racist.

  4. Residents should be invited to collect any remaining plants still alive. I hate mistreatment of plantlife as well as mistreatment of animals. Boooooo!

  5. I’m all for not wasting water – but I’ve heard that ivy is a haven for rats as well as spiders.

  6. 40,000 gallons a month (about 54 HCF) is an insane amount of water! An average home with lawn, landscaping, etc, uses maybe 10-15 HCF a month.

    What would be a viable alternative planting? Ivy is fairly drought-tolerant once it’s established, but it looks horrible if it’s too dry or gets fried by the sun And those walls get sun almost all day (especially the long wall along Maltman).

  7. please… what a lie 40,000 gallons a month! whoever believes that is as ignorant as someone who would tear something down like this!

    • Thank you. There’s no way it’s 40,000 gallons per month — that’s inconceivable. Just a lie to cover up the destruction of a really beautiful thing.

  8. Could of be done cheaper . What a waste of water especially on a vertical setting …

  9. bougainvillea

    • I agree, bougainvillea would be an excellant choice, there are several colors if the pink variety isn’t to he owner’s liking 🙂 Plus, once established, is extremely drought tolerant! Ultimately it’s the owner’s choice, but white bougainvillea would look a lot nicer than ivy 😉

  10. Ivy will destroy the mortar.

    • Thank you Ruby. While I’m no landscape architect, I can definitely state from experience that fig ivy wedges itself in any orifice and proceeds to break apart anything in its path. I’ve watched wood siding and a foundation get obliterated by it.

  11. If anyone accepts the claim that 40,000 gallons of water (in other words 2 gallons for every seedling planted) was needed each month for that well-intentioned monstrosity to die its slow death, then they should also believe that the Polka-dot Plaza required the exact same amount of paint.

    • I’ve seen successful vertical planting with each plant nestled inside rockwool, an internal drip watering system, a channel at the base to catch water, and solar-powered pumps recirculating that water. Granted, it was on a much smaller scale (5 x 5-foot), but applying that principle with drought tolerant plants, even 4,000 gallons a month seems high.

    • I don’t buy 40,000 gal either. Unless they are figuring the total for the whole hair salon including washing sinks etc. That would just be a disingenuous…

  12. As someone who has been working with plants (design and maintenance) for over 15 years, I never thought that wall looked good or would last very long. It was a great idea in theory, but most of the plants were wrong for the environment they were planted in, didn’t have enough soil, or were never going to grow large enough to cover the ugly fabric they were planted in. I wonder if they actually had a professional helping them or they just took a bit of advice from a nursery and planted what they thought looked cool. Plants will only look cool for you if you meet their basic needs and plant them in the correct environment.

    The fig ivy or “creeping fig” that was suggested is probably the best solution. It’s actually part of the ficus family and has small oval leaves and grows close to the surface it’s trained on. Creeping fig is not related to the common ivy plants you see taking over landscapes and making homes for rats. If they owner really wants it to cover the building they will have to make holes in the concrete in the parking lot and plant it directly into the ground so that the roots can grow deep into the soil. If you want a plant to grow up, it must also have room for the roots to extend down. I see many people trying to train vines up a building from narrow, shallow planters with no success. If they do use narrow planters I would suggest they be at least three feet tall and long so that the plants have a chance to spread their roots.

    Creeping fig can be invasive but it probably won’t get very far with all that concrete around it. Still, it would be best to put some kind of root barrier on the plants that are closest to the neighbor’s yard toward the back of the property to prevent it from spreading there. It’s pretty hardy if it’s planted right and shouldn’t take that enormous amount of water they mentioned. It’s totally possible to use that amount of water if your irrigation system isn’t installed correctly. With the tiny amount of soil those poor plants were potted in, I wouldn’t be surprised if they had to be watered every hour on a hot day!

    The suggestion of Bouganvilla sounds pretty but it does get pretty bushy (rats), needs even more room for roots (bigger holes or planters) and has thorns (ouch).

  13. How about making it a curated graffiti wall? There is a dearth of good graffiti in silverlake.

  14. Sandra your a Troll who is obese . and Well you cross the street when you see me coming and never ever make eye contact with me homie.. And Henry if I worked at Mcee Dees I’d spit on your Burger like my homies do and Guess what old man. you wouldnt even know.. HAHAHA.. Were still here homie , this is our hood it will always be our hood. No matter how many hipsters move in , you pendejos just give us more of you to rob at night.. hahhahaha

  15. wow. if it really used that much water though, that’s not cool either.
    (wonder where my hair guy is now?)

    ideal scenario: figure out how much gray water (what goes down sinks) is generated by the owner / occupant and use that amount as the limiting criteria for an artfully planted design. even plant edibles in the pockets–pretty cool for a grocery store ! after all, the infrastructure is in place and could probably be readapted with minor – moderate costs. use solar to pump it up to the roof. the rest of the wall, could be painted to lower maintenance. one step further, keep the “live plant mosaic” at a reasonable, accessible height for ease of maintenance.

    win-win solutions require imagination combined with feasibility. reductionist “fig vine” thinking keeps us rooted in the mundane.
    wake up people ! let’s all stretch our minds

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