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A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

Posted by castorp z9 FL (My Page) on
Sun, Jun 29, 14 at 8:42

I would like to make a "living wall" of epiphytic plants, and I was wondering if any of you have suggestions for a good material to make it out of. Basically I need a flat, vertical surface that I could mount resurrection ferns, orchids, and "air plants" (Tillandsia) on. I would even like to grow areas of moss and lichens on it, if possible.
I want something that won't rot too quickly, but treated lumber would poison the plants.

I as thinking of attaching a coco fiber mat or sphagnum moss to some kind of rot proof, non-toxic panel. But I'm not sure if this is the best approach.

Any suggestions or ideas?

Thanks.

Bill


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

  • Posted by tomncath St.Pete-Z10A-Heat 10 (My Page) on
    Sun, Jun 29, 14 at 9:47

Bill,

Consider using Cattle Panel for your framework, it's galvanized, strong and should last for many years.

Tom


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

Pallets can be found for free, all over the place, especially Craigslist. They are treated but often aged. You would have to be creative with your design but you will probably need to do that no matter what material you choose.


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

Bill,

Sounds awesome. Have you considered some bromeliads too (ie. like Nor. Fireball or var. fireball)? How about some of that plastic lattice as the base?

Helen


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

Thanks for the ideas! If I use a cattle panel or plastic lattice as the base, what would be the best thing to cover it with? Coco fiber mats? Or something else? Ideally I would like something that will hold up to the elements for a long time, so I'm not constantly re-doing it.

Helen, I'm definitely open to small broms, though right now I'm leaning towards mostly air plants--a type of brom.

Thanks again.

Bill


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

You can buy 4x8 sheets of plastic lattice at any of the big box stores. Bolt it to your wall with space behind it, at least an inch. Use washers and long bolts to make the space.

For orchids - simply tie them to the lattice with brown jute twine. The twine will rot away in two years, but by then the orchids will have roots wrapping around the plastic lattice.

For tillandsia - stuff some sphagnum moss into the square spaces and shove the tillandsia into the moss. Use some jute twine if necessary to anchor them.

For bromeliads - either method, depending on the size of the plant, but make sure you mount them with the cup facing upright as much as possible.

For big areas of moss or lichens - make a sandwich out of two pieces of fine gauge chicken wire with the moss or lichens on top of sphagnum moss in the the middle. Tie the sandwich to the lattice with thin aluminum ground wire, moss or lichens facing out (obviously.)

If it's a small area, consider using driftwood and tying everything with jute twine or drilling holes that you can stuff plants into. Like this:


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

That's a beautiful display, Fawnridge. Thanks for posting it and thanks for the information. I may actually mount pieces of driftwood onto the living wall too. That chicken wire sandwich idea is just what I needed to know.


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

  • Posted by whgille Oakland FL Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Sun, Jun 29, 14 at 17:37

Hi Bill

I am looking forward to see your new project, you got some great ideas and info from the previous posters.

It reminds me of the walls that I saw in the Longwood gardens, they look pretty simple and can be changed easily if a plant don't make it.

 photo June2014_081_zps8f634519.jpg

Silvia


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

Here's a living wall from Madrid. Not epiphytes, but regular plants with an amazing irrigation system.


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

hi
I made what is referred to as a "seep wall" in my shadehouse used sheet stryfoam to cover the wall and
expanding foam as a planting surface. Water was pumped from a reservoir to the top and released accross the whole surface . Combines a living wall with a hydroponic setup.
main maintemnence problem was GROWTH lol within a month it was diverting water away from the reservoir
It was 7x10 feet used a 150 gallon aquarium as the reservoir
was severely damaged by hurricanes and I never rebuilt it but still got a whole bunch of growth on it lol
good luck gary


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

Silvia, thanks for the picture. I hope I can go up to Longwood gardens someday! I was considering lots of small hanging pots (instead of a living wall) for the reason you mention, but most of the stuff I want to grow--air plants, moss, lichens--don't work well with pots, so far as I know. Even the native orchid I'm using seems to prefer growing on a vertical surface. So I thought, Why not a living wall?

Fawnridge, that wall in Madrid is my inspiration. My wife's from Spain. Her mom lives in Madrid, and I stop and look at that wall whenever I'm in the neighborhood. It is an amazing thing. It seems like it would be if anything easier to make living wall in Florida because we have so many plants that LIKE living on walls. Looks like we should have living walls everywhere.

Gary, you mean expanding foam as in the stuff that comes in a can? Did you spray it onto the Styrofoam?

Thanks again to you all.

Bill


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

this is a hall of bathrooms ;) - at longwood. just fabulous.
it's top irrigated. and nice and cool.


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

mostly it's very dense, but in a few places you could see the liner. i took a pic for reference.
i can see wire scaffold (cattle panel would do), and what looks like a landscaping fabric with holes. inside is LF sphag (orchid type). on the floor is a trough with grating for dripping water.


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

i've seen grow sacks - hanging vertically with holes puched into them. if you hang sev in a row it will form an impromptu wall of sorts.
also at longwood in the brom section of rainforest most smaller broms were mounted on a wall grid and planted in flat coir-matting pockets approx7"x8" tall. prolly with lf sphag inside.


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

Wow!!!! Those living walls are incredible. I have to get up there and see those gardens. Thanks so much for the pics and information.

Bill


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

You might want to give a shout out to sochi, who has done some beautiful living walls, but indoors:

Here is a link that might be useful: living wall thread in Home Decorating


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

in 2012 for spring orchid show in bronx BG in nyc they did spectacular vertical walls by patrick blanc.
click the link under each photo to enlarge.
here's one of my pics - close-up

Here is a link that might be useful: official show pics


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

  • Posted by whgille Oakland FL Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Tue, Jul 1, 14 at 8:55

Hi Petrushka

You beat me with all the nice pictures you took of the longwood gardens,lol.
I like the Bonx BG too!

Here is one wall at the spa near my house, I think it is ivy.

 photo May2014_030_zps5d2ac1a0.jpg

Silvia


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

Thanks to you both for the links and the pictures. I'm going to go back to them again and again as I work out a design. Indoor walls can still give me lots of ideas about how to arrange plants.

I'm probably going to use Fawnridge's idea for sandwiching sphagnum moss between chicken wire to create a flat surface for mosses, lichens and resurrection ferns, but just to keep my options open, does anyone know of other long-lasting materials I could grow these plants on?

Thanks.

Bill


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

i think that coir matting sold on the roll is more long-lived and it also wets very easily, but water drips thru it very quickly. so having sphag to hold water will be necessary. but perhaps matting is too thick? it can be cut easily to make holes for starts and stuff won't fall out as much.
found an exceptional link below - for diy and non-diy. he calls matting coir husk.

Here is a link that might be useful: greenwalls set-up


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

Thanks for the link, Petruska. Almost all of the plants I'm using are true epiphytes--they live on tree branches, and some are happy dangling from a piece of fishing line--so I was thinking something super well drained like coir matting would work. And it would be convenient to work with. With the mosses and lichens I'm not so sure. I'm going to read up on some of the materials described in the link.

That place is near your house, Silvia? I thought you took the picture on your trip to Italy! That's probably the best way to make a living wall. Just cover it with a Ivy. But I love these crazy air plants and I'm looking for a way to display them.

Thanks again.

Bill


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

That does not appear to be ivy on the wall. It looks like Ficus repens or Creeping Fig. I would strongly advise against the use of that plant unless you are certain you can contain it. I planted two of them from 1-gallon cans over a dozen years ago. Maintenance on these two sections of wall is required on a daily basis to keep the Ficus from spreading to everything it touches:


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

  • Posted by whgille Oakland FL Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Wed, Jul 2, 14 at 8:51

Bill, the spa is Italian themed designed, everything from the decor to the floors, ornaments, plants. Inside the spa and restaurant to the grapes planted outside.

Here is another view of the wall

 photo Picture060.jpg

outside looking at the lake

 photo Picture061.jpg

I am going to look forward to your next project, it sounds complicated but fun! I see some beautiful centerpieces made on driftwood with those type of plants, you sure have to be handy and creative.

Silvia


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

Here's another wall of Creeping Fig. This is the Tabacon Resort in Costa Rica. Granted, their growing conditions are far better than ours in zone 10, but the gardener at the resort told me this wall was planted the year before from a couple of cuttings he just stuck in the ground.

This post was edited by fawnridge on Wed, Jul 2, 14 at 9:03


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

i love the lacy look it creates!
so if it's just going up on stucco walls - why would it require so much maintenance?


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

It's a runner. It roots at nodes. It's difficult to keep it from growing where you don't want it to grow. It will bear an inedible fruit after time and the leaves grow large. Branches get large and ugly.

You want more?

The sap is a skin irritant. The root system will eventually get into the smallest cracks and make them larger. Only the new growth can be killed by RoundUp.


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

Bill, since you doing epiphytes...do you have any orchids that you can incorporate? I have a p iece of driftwood that my son and I hauled out of the mountains in Arizona and I have been saving for a mini project like yours. I m hoping to stock up on a bunch of epiphytes at the usfbg tropical plant sale at the end of the month. Someone posted yellow flowing orchids and I m hoping to score one of those too :)
Helen


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

Silvia, that is a beautiful spa. I'm going to take Fawnridge's advice and not plant that vine (that's a big wall it's covering!), but I love to look at it. Such an authentic looking Italian garden.

Fawnridge, I love that garden path and the way you've planted it. Thanks for the pic.

Helen, I have one tiny clump of a native orchid a garden friend gave me years ago. I tried growing it in an orchid basket hanging from a palm tree trunk, and it languished there for a long time. Every time I saw it, I told myself: I'm going to do something with that orchid. Finally I mounted it on a small cork plaque and hung it in a spot with more light. Immediately it began to perk up. The thing isn't happy unless it has super drainage and a good bit of light.

Another garden friend gave me a nice native airplant. I attached it to a palm tree trunk. The squirrels were kind enough to "divide" it for me. So I hung divisions of the airplant around the orchid. They perked up too. I started thinking how I might keep going, adding resurrection ferns, lichens, mosses. I find all of these things growing in the yard. I think they would be beautiful if I could find some way to display them. Thus, the "living wall of epiphytes" idea.

These plants truly grow on air. I was even thinking of mounting each individual plant to a piece of cedar board (about 1 foot square or so) so that each plant was like a picture in a frame: one "picture" would be of an air plant, the next an orchid, the next resurrection ferns, and so on. I could hang the "pictures" in different arrangements on the fence, according to their light needs, make different designs. . . I'm not sure if all of these plants would be happy on cedar though (would the cedar oil bother them?) and I'm not sure it would last long enough to be worth the trouble. In my experience even cedar rots here pretty fast.

Bill


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

I've been growing Creeping Fig on my little 1 story concrete block house for 13 years. Hoping to cover the discolored surfaces visible to the street (to avoid ruining all my landscaping next to the house that would occur with chemical prep & painters - I know, growing plants against the house is another no-no per many people). Of course, that part of the house has been last to accept the Creeping Fig - but it finally is doing so.

The only complaint I have is the maintenance at the roof line - ladder, long pole clipper, etc. No way to curb it's upward growth other than to cut it.

I have not found any of the following by fawnridge to be true at my house: "It will bear an inedible fruit after time and the leaves grow large. Branches get large and ugly.
...The sap is a skin irritant."


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

ah, but fawnridge is in 10a - guess, the the more south it gets the more aggressive it becomes.
anyways, i guess if you have a large expanse of concrete that needs to be covered, it'll do the job ;).
i'll keep it in mind if i need smth growing on a tall concrete property/yard wall, perhaps?
i've been collecting info on wall planters too.
check out this site - scroll about half-way down - they plant huge wire baskets/window boxes with broms and ferns - may be will get you an idea what to combine together?

Here is a link that might be useful: brom baskets


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

castor, i love your idea of 'plants in frames'!
it got me thinking. there's this other system that i found that can be may be used for smaller 'framed' wall-gardens. it's so-o cute! they have like a box with louvers, that you plant in on a slant.
if you click on 'single' you'll see the structure itself.
it's just really very shallow narrow window-boxes taht you can shift anyway you like.
unfortunately it's wholesale to the trade only.
but you can rig smth similar, i think.
also as far as cedar board goes.. may be you can line it with cork? like in cork-tiles? cork is pretty waterproof and deteriorates very slow. but it's too soft, so needs to have a backing.
may be sandwich cedar board, concrete board (like they use for mozaic) and then cork liner?

Here is a link that might be useful: 'vertical louvers'

This post was edited by petrushka on Thu, Jul 3, 14 at 16:15


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

Hi
At the AOS garden they have a "tree" made of various types
of PVC pipe then covered with cork slab. the advantage is
it doesn't overgrow it's location ,rot ,nor shade the orchids .
You could improve on that design by using the expanding foam either directly to the pvc or formed and glued in place . One tremendous advantage is it cuts the price by two thirds reduces the weight triples the choices of "effects by altering the paint. Most epiphytes
will happily live as lithophytes though I've found one
that is dubbed "Obligate limestone lithophyte" One in every crownd ??lol
Good luck with you project!! My main objection to them is the cost but I'm a cheapskate lol gary


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

Your house is your house and I hate to say anything bad because it is so pretty ... but this is for those who may be thinking about this idea for the first time. Here are things to consider. Vines grown directly on exterior walls bring along these three negatives, right on the outside of you house:

- hold moisture
- invite/host insects
- penetrating roots

Plant racks/orchids/bromeliads are probably not as bad. But any one of these would be enough for me to not have vines. That is just my two cents.

Carol in Jacksonville


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

One additional thing that Carol missed - what do you do with your wall covered in vines when you have to paint the house?


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

Petruska, the cork tiles idea is great!! Do you think the cork on a tile is rough enough for an orchid's roots to cling to?

Gary, I like the foam idea but this is an outdoor wall and I'm afraid the stuff would break down in the sun. But I'm reading an earlier gw post--by you!-- and learning more.

I would love to plant vines all over the walls of our house and trim rather than paint--but my wife won't let me.

Thanks again,

Bill


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

i was thinking of thick rough-pieces cork tiles, not the thin smooth kind. you can even roughen them up a bit, i think.

Here is a link that might be useful: like this


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

Hi
The foam on the wall is around 15 years old has not degraded not has it lost its adhesion . it does require painting not only because it will UV degrade but because it comes out of the can a sickly yellow lol. It acts as an adhesive ,for pots, cork .tree fern ,as well as stone ,filler between plantings.. Can look like stone , wood or Mona lisa if you're that artistic lol. I've used it extensively for terrariums ,aquariums .
I find most epipytes will grow directly on the "stuff" eliminating the need for pots /potting media.. I did have a constant source of water from an established aquarium.
i have also used the "stuff" to make plantings for epi's on real trees and palms
The advantages can be any size or shape self adhesive. drains very well and CHEAP lol.
my 7x10 wall was built for under 200 bucks including the plumbing.,not including the aquarium,pumps ,plants lol


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

Gary, one more question: does paint stick to the "stuff" pretty well or is it like painting plastic--always flaking off? Also, what sort of paint is best when you're planting orchids/airplants/ epiphytic ferns on it?? Well, that was two questions. I appreciate your help.

Thanks for the link, Petrushka. The price of some of those tiles isn't too bad, and some of them look rough enough already.

Thanks again to you all. Now I have lots of ideas to work with.

Bill


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

Hi
Have made many types of faux finishes for aquaria/terraria
marble ,lava rock ,driftwood ,malachite, even tried irrridescent and tiger eye.
Since you're not going to run water over the surface nor submerged, acrylic latex will work great.
Don't get too fancy with the paint job as within a couple of months it's covered by the plants. anyway. Black, gray
,dark greens or browns if going for the wood look..
It will chip over time and the "stuff" turns an orange brown color . To my mind it makes it look more natural but could be touched up?.
the roots of the plants will grow into it as well as carpenter ants though I never found termites.
Originally I used two part epoxy paint for a waterfall but found it no better than acrylic at 3 times the cost.
Have never had any toxic issures even in marine aquariums. never altered the pH from soft to salt.
get a can and experiment with it Put a glob on some parchment paper after curing it can be carved into very elaborate shapes though the cheaper brands will have more bubbles.
One word of warning . get disposable gloves and don't touch it until cured !!! i wore some for over 6 months on my fingernails lol It will adhere to ANYTHING even glass!! hope you show some pix as you progress?? gary


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

Thanks so much for all of the information, Gary. The project is still very much in the "idea stage," which is why I appreciate all of the ideas I'm getting here. But when I finally actually make something I'll post some pics. And I'll definitely wear gloves if I start experimenting with the "stuff." I've used it on jobs around the house and got some on my hands before.

Bill


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

it looks like this stuff will be useful in the future for me too ;).
i'm wondering, what if you sprinkle it with coarse sand or grit as it is still expanding, will it imbed the grit into the surface? to get a better grainy stone look + cover up the strange yellow color?
they seal ready made foam blocks too and
this link says to incorporate grit into foam finisher:
Replica stone-like and waterproof finishes can be achieved using Foam Coat Grit.
Add the grit to the foam coat finish.

Here is a link that might be useful: foam blocks and related finishes

This post was edited by petrushka on Tue, Jul 8, 14 at 15:27


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

Hi
Here is a pic of the stuff wall. Almost all the plants have been removed . At the bottom you can see the top of the aquariumj which provided the water As you can see the acrylic is still holding except where the plants were pried off lol It is still 10 feet wide but does not go to the roof parts were taken and moved to the garden. gary


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

Thanks for the picture, Gary. The stuff weathers a lot better than I thought it would. In the picture it looks like some kind of rock. Did I read you used Styrofoam for the base? It's so big it looks like it would have to have some kind of reinforcement.

Bill


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

Hi
The pic shows about half of it . I used sheet styrofoan siliconed to the CBS wall. . The goal was to look like a natural 'seep wall such as seen in tropical mountains rather than tree trunks . The great advantage to the "stuff' is that the entire 7x10 foot wall weighs less than a pound reinforcement is not necessary. water was pumped from aquarium and released over the length of the "wall" at the bottom was a catch area where it overflowed into the tank..
The big failure to the setup was growth. the plants covered the wall withinn two months and the epis. started eating into the foam diverted the water flow .
had I been smart would have put a sheet of plastic over the styrofoam and put the stuff on top of that.lol
If I were to do it over again would use "high expanding" stuff rather than high density .carving and fancy paint jobs were useless as every square inch was covered by plants lol Would not have foamed over plastic pots to create "pockets" but would have carved them in where needed The plants particularly the epis grew beautifully in the stuff potting materials unneeded.
One other point , would more carefully plan the planting layout as many plants were quickly covered by others , Also would have used miniature types and kept the planting area MUCH smaller and added sections as it developed.. needed aLOT more planning than I gave it !!! gary


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RE: A Living Wall of Epiphytes?

Thanks so much for the tips, Gary. Your wall must have been amazing when it was up and going! I'm thinking of all sorts of possibilities with "the stuff." I may start small and play around with a can of the stuff, a moss slurry and some lichens. See what happens.

Bill


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