20181024_095143New products are always fascinating and usually promise the world, but it takes time to see how they function in a landscape and if they are worth the hassle of installing.

Flex MSE is a green wall modular system that is relatively new to the industry and provides permanent retention and erosion control the same way that an allan block wall does. Here though, it has the fabulous advantage over allan blocks of being completely available for plantings, creating a living retaining wall. In place of a broad expanse of impermeable concrete, a steep slope can be structurally sound as well as lush, fragrant, edible, colourful and ecologically responsible, offering so much opportunity for creative design.

For what amounts to a bag of thick industrial grade landscape fabric filled with soil, this is actually an exciting design solution for homeowners with difficult to manage slopes.

This wall was installed in early 2017 by Rick Coppick of GreatScapes Installations, and was planted in stages as the client’s budget allowed, in spring of 2017, fall 2017, and spring 2018.

By October of 2018 it has filled in considerably, in a gorgeous tapestry of colour. The client wanted to use as many native plant species as possible, with tough, drought tolerant ornamental plants interspersed for seasonal interest. Volunteers have found their way in, taking root in the nooks and crannies. Ferns, mosses, lichens, fungi, and one particularly determined little Western Red Cedar, Thuja plicata. A developing ecosystem on one wall.

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Hairy Manzanita, Arctostaphyllus columbiana

EXAMPLES OF NATIVE SPECIES PLANTED: Kinnickinick, Evergreen Hucklberry, Wild Pacific Ginger, Western Swordfern, Salal, Red Flowering Currant, Shore Pines, Hairy Manzanita, Deer Fern, Sea Thrift, Sedums, etc.

EXAMPLES OF ORNAMENTAL SPECIES PLANTED: English Lavender, Sedums, Hinjo Japanese Maiden Grass, Blue Oat Grass, Hardy Fuchsia, Strawberry Tree, Thyme, Heathers, Red Twig Dogwoods, etc.

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Delicious Evergreen Huckleberry, Vaccinium ovatum

The native Evergreen Huckleberry, Vaccinium ovatum, is particularly wonderful – delectable black berries, sweet as can be, with evergreen foliage that is red when young and ages to a glossy dark green. A reliable and tough native species that is a productive addition to any garden. And planted at waist height, it is perfect for snacking.