Lake Como’s beautiful landscape looks like something out of a painting, and the picturesque location attracts travelers for its sublime natural beauty. Il Sereno, located on the banks of Lake Como, is one of the most beautiful and serene locations in all of the region. Its design was inspired by nature — inside and out. To reflect Lake Como’s verdant surroundings, Il Sereno tapped acclaimed French botanist Patrick Blanc, who is known as the modern innovator of green walls and, specifically, the vertical garden. He works at the French Centre for Scientific Research and has designed vertical walls and garden projects all over the world, including New York; Miami; Tokyo; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Dubai; Hong Kong; and beyond. Blanc’s work at Il Sereno is especially unique. It’s the first location in the world where he created three distinct pieces in one project.
Tropical plants are Blanc’s expertise, but he creates unique, one-of-a-kind gardens in every new location inspired by the local flora. No small undertaking, the three vertical gardens he created at Il Sereno include Le Mirroir Vert du Lac, La Comete, and Le Canyon. Blanc worked with landscape artist Flavio Pollano to create these inspired spaces, including one beautiful ground-level garden that Pollano designed. Pollano has worked with Blanc since 2007 on projects around the world, but this creation on the shores of Lake Como was special for both of them. “When I heard about the project, I started studying the local flora,” Pollano says. “It’s very unique because the lake area is much warmer than the surrounding Lombardy climate. It’s a microclimate, so you need to find species that adapt well.” In total, the vertical wall has 8,100 plants, 200 plant species, 30 plants per square meter, and covers 270 square meters (equivalent to 2,906 square feet). The ground-level garden has 160 species, with plants that existed before Blanc and Pollano began working on the project. “Some of the plants were here for up to 70 years, so we had to keep them,” says Pollano. In addition to the native vegetation, Pollano was thoughtful of the types of plants he brought in to the garden. He wanted the variety of plants to reflect the globally minded guests. “The hotel is visited by people from all over the world, so we had an idea to bring in plants from around the globe with botanical origins in Australia, Africa, America, and so on,” he says. “When you arrive at the hotel, you feel at home. You might recognize something from your home country. If you see flowers from your place of origin your brain will immediately recall that.”
Le Mirroir Vert du Lac, Le Canyon, and La Comete
The vertical garden called Le Mirroir Vert du Lac, which translates into “the lake’s green mirror,” is located on the hotel’s main facade and has nearly 2,000 different plants and more than 130 species. Colors and movement of the lake inspired it. Not only did Blanc and Pollano think about how the plants would adapt to the local environment, but they also considered the color, speed at which they grow, and size. They also analyzed each plant’s seasonality to ensure they are in full bloom during the hotel’s peak occupancy periods. Le Canyon, translated to “the canyon,” is a vertical wall behind the building with 2,700 different plants. While this wall is bigger than Le Mirroir Vert du Lac, it’s simpler and has a greater concentration of green plant species. It also requires a special light installation due to its narrow passage location so the plants can get sufficient nutrients and perform photosynthesis properly. “For these walls, we had to change the strategy from what we do in the cities,” says Pollano. He adds that even though the canyon requires artificial light, the plants at Il Sereno were designed to grow a bit more freely than those in the city, thanks to the space available at the hotel. “The plants take their space in a natural way.” Blanc created a horizontal garden, La Comete, or “the comet”. It gets its name from its long line of plants, resembling a shooting comet. La Comete features 183 types of plant species and has scents of myrtle and lavender. There is also Les Racines Echasseesm, a sculpture made from plants.
Creation Continues at Lake Como
Earlier this year, Il Sereno debuted its new Penthouse Suite, and enlisted Blanc once again to add another vertical garden to the facade below the suite. This new living wall interacts with both the building facade and Le Mirroir Vert du Lac. An automatic watering system gives the vertical gardens both water and minerals three times per day. And although the garden installation is complete, Pollano regularly visits the property to care for them. “This project is very close to my heart,” Pollano says. “We have a great natural relationship with the hotel, and they give us the lovely freedom to create. Patrick Blanc is also a true genius, and he knows every plant in the world.” To see these incredible gardens in person, book your stay at Il Sereno, open seasonally April – October.