In the Garden: Wonder Wall

Stacey Van Berkel-Haines
by Johanna Lenander - North Carolina - Feb/March 2011

Laura Vinroot Poole brings the colossal work of French botanist Patrick Blanc to life in Charlotte, North Carolina

>Click to see more photos of Vinroot's vertical garden

Each morning, when Laura Vinroot Poole steps over the threshold of her Charlotte boutique Capitol, the first order of business isn’t returning phone calls or inspecting the latest arrivals of couture gowns and fine jewelry. Instead, she takes in the scenery—specifically the two-story vertical garden by renowned French landscape designer Patrick Blanc that anchors the courtyard of the store. “It feels like a friend,” she says. “It makes me happy every morning when I see it. I have never felt like that about a garden before.”

Vinroot Poole, the daughter of former Charlotte mayor Richard Vinroot, continues to attract attention from the New York–centric fashion world for delivering one-of-a-kind designs and international style to North Carolina. Bringing Blanc’s work to Capitol is yet another example. “People come driving from out of town to visit it,” she says.

She first became acquainted with pieces by Blanc—whose green thumb has touched some of the world’s chicest museums, hotels, and shops—during buying trips to Paris, when she would spend downtime admiring his verdant walls in the atrium of the Pershing Hall Hotel, which features 115 perpendicular feet of Blanc botany. “It was always my favorite place,” she says. “The wall was mesmerizing.” Then, as chance would have it, Vinroot Poole met the eccentric artist at a party in India in 2007.

Blanc recalls his enthusiasm when Vinroot Poole and her husband, the architect Perry Poole, approached him just a few weeks after the party about creating a garden mural for Capitol, which they were in the process of building. “I was very excited to do the project because the biology is incredible in the South,” Blanc says. “I was able to work with species that hadn’t been available to me before.” But no one was more enthusiastic about the collaboration than Vinroot Poole. “I was so flattered that he agreed to do a project in my hometown and so proud that we were able to build it for Charlotte,” she says.