The Future is (Hopefully) Green

Sourced from Boulder Weekly

Once a day for one minute, the automatic irrigation system threaded through Peloton West condominiums’s new succulent wall whirs to life. Plants on the west-facing side are watered more frequently than it’s north-facing counterpart, due to different levels of sun exposure. But once the plants have adjusted to their new soil and living conditions, watering will dwindle to once a week, as they are highly adaptable and don’t require much water.

Able to withstand conditions without much care, succulents are a bit like the pet rocks of the plant world. As additions to coffee tales or display cases, succulents seem to be everywhere lately. The Instagram hashtag #succulove, a way for people to share pictures of their artistic succulent arrangements, has 1.1 million posts. On the Dolce & Gabbana 2016 runway, prints of cacti made their way onto suits and sweaters. Perhaps succulents are so popular because keeping them alive without much effort gives us an easily won sense of competence, or maybe they appeal to our biological appreciation of symmetry.

Outside of the Peloton condominiums in Boulder, an immense cube with two sides covered in living plants towers over passing residents. The $40,000 succulent landscaping project is there to provide an aesthetic touch of whimsy matched with environmentalism.

Finished in June, the wall is Boulder’s first in the large-scale green wall movement, a trend New Jersey-raised landscaper Travis Popiel says reached the East Coast years ago. While other green roofs and walls use perennials and grasses — including the wall at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre in Englewood, which features plants arranged to look like sound waves —  the living wall at Peloton uses only succulents. Decorated with a colorful mix of ice-plants, sedums and other succulents, the wall is built to withstand the Colorado dry summer heat as well as winter’s sub-freezing temperatures. The wall is ever-changing because the different types of plants in the wall bloom at different times and its colors transform throughout the day and throughout the seasons.

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