The Living Office – Creating a Vertical Garden at Kiseki no Hoshi

Recently Phil and I were given the opportunity to transform one of the ‘cubes’ at Kiseki no Hoshi into a vertical garden, competing with two other groups of ALPHA students to create the best green wall for an office environment.

Well I say competing, but really we’re all too nice to really get competitive. Phil and I worked as a team to come up with a good, workable design that Tomoko sensei would approve!

We decided to design two cube faces. Here is our preliminary design for the first cube face…

1 Design 1


With a little modification…

1 Design 2


The final design for cube face one…

1 Design 3 - Final Design


And our design for cube face two…

1 Design 4 - Final Design Cube Face 2


The title for our design is ‘The Living Office’; the idea was to create a living wall which could be used as a ‘room’ divider in a large floor of offices.

The first cube face is a grid wall featuring a desk large enough for a laptop, paper and stationary, and a magnetic board for living plant magnets as well as all those ‘to do notes’. The wall also has living frames for displaying items such as clocks, photos and plant art. There is even a mirror so one can check that one is always looking presentable at work! The second cube face, featuring a circular mirror suspended within a larger circular frame, is designed to act as a screen between two colleagues’ workstation. The plants help make the office a greener, healthier environment in which to work, while the open spaces enable colleagues to communicate when desired. The mirror also reflects daylight and helps to brighten the office.

Plant maintenance is intended to be easy – perfect for someone with limited plant knowledge. All of the plants have their root balls wrapped in moss or foam and can be watered easily with a little squirt of water when required. All of the plants chosen (orchids and ‘house plant’ foliage plants) are ideal for a dry office environment without a great deal of daylight and as such do not have high watering requirements.

One of our design’s unique qualities is that many of the features on the walls are moveable or can be replaced by other items, so the owner is free to be as creative as they like in their very own living office!


In this blog I am going to make a change from my usual reams of text and let the photos speak for themselves. Goodness knows I take a lot of them! Below you can see how, assisted by some of the wonderful  staff at Kiseki no Hoshi, Phil and I were able to bring our design to life.


First the frame is constructed…

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…while Tomoko sensei teaches me how to make living magnets…

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…and I have a bit of fun making magnets with moss, orchids, stone and bark…

4 (1) 4 (2) 4 (3) 4 (4) 4 (5) 4 (6) 4 (7) 4 (8) 4 (9) 4 (11) 4 (13) 4 (15) 4 (16) 4 (17) 4 (19) 4 (20)


…as well as some succulent ‘paintings’ on Awaji tiles…

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Next it was time to plant the first cube face…

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And then the second cube face…

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And after a few final tweaks…

8 (1) 8 (2)


The final design is complete! What do you think? Phil and I were really pleased with it!

??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? 9 (2a) ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????


Here are some of the ALPHA students putting their own designs together, as well as their finished compositions.

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I’ll leave it up to you to decide who wins the vertical garden competition, but remember – don’t phone in, it’s just for fun!




Begonia rex cv.

Calathea insignis

Nephrolepsis exaltata



Coelogyne cristata

Cymbidium (pink and white cvs.)

Dendrobium dichaeoides

Dendrobium wenzelii

Epidendrum centradenium

Ionopsis utricularioides

Mini Cattleya (pink cvs.)

Odontoglossom ‘Little Dancer’

Odontoglossom pulchellum

Oncidium (pink cv.)

Oncidium Twinkle Series (pink cv.)

Oncidium waltnensis ‘Aneby’

Paphiopedilum (green and white cv.)

Phalaenopsis amabilis (white and pink cvs.)


  1. rhiannonharris2014

    Thanks Doug! Tomoko and the Museum are proving the perfect environment for my creativities . I never knew horticulture could be so much fun!

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