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03/06/2013 at 11:26

Hi there gardeners!

I had an idea for a music video that's about nature reclaiming the earth. Basically it involves seeing a big city being taken over by enormous plants that shoot out of the ground and cover and curl round everything man has made until there's no evidence he ever existed at all. 

Now I was thinking that this would have to all be CGI, and maybe it still will, but I was wondering if this effect could be realised in real time; Would it be possible to plant the right kinds of seeds amongst small models of city locations to achieve an effect like this?

Ideally I want it to look the way Angor Wat and the other temples in Cambodia do (see attached picture). As if man himself has long gone and the skyline just consists of dilapdated half-leaning skyscrapers with patches of rust and moss covering everything.

I know it would probably take months and months and a lot of trial and error but I just know that if it could be done right it would look absolutely spectacular!

So, is it at all doable? Although I'm sure it's obvious I just want to make clear that I know very little about gardening! 



03/06/2013 at 13:20

Well the fastest growing vine I can think of is the Russian vine, fallopia baldschaunica. Here's a link with more info...

I wouldn't let it loose in my garden though!


03/06/2013 at 14:02

HI, figrat has beaten me to it !  If you go with this one get stocked up with a good weedkiller ! 

Some clematis are quicker than others.

If you want to add triffid amongst it all ,  then go for ...... what I call the giant Thistle it will grow a couple of metres tall , problebly with a dollop of horse muck around its roots will  grow gigantic even more . I wiil try to find the name for it . The plant itself grows  with grey felty leaves and prickles looks good, you may need to stake discreetly , it will branch out from the main stem . Iy has big purple thistle flowers. at the momant all I can think of is the " scottish thistle "  but I will check this out .

Another you might use are "Cardoons" similar though I think it was known as a veg in the victorian times . They ate the young leaves .

03/06/2013 at 14:07

Annual climbers might be better, you'd get it done in a season the. (or perennials that die back each year). A viticella clematis, runner beans,

03/06/2013 at 14:32

I know it's not the kind you asked for, but the unfurling of a fern is rather beautiful and fairly rapid.  I'll have to think of other plants.

03/06/2013 at 15:31

Lucky 3 I think you are thinking of Onopordum acanthium, the scotch thistle. It's a biennial though so unless it's in its second year in a large pot it's not going to flower this year.

Eccremocarpus could look good scrambling over a  small model.  The frost would kill it so no problems with it afterwards.

How big are your buildings going to be   6 inch or 6 feet.?


03/06/2013 at 15:40

Also.. if you paint the models with yogurt, you'll get moss growing on it pretty quickly, which might look very good, behind the plants growing. Other than that, you could use something like Vetch, a very small fast growing climbing annual. Because the model will be small the small leaves of vetch will look in proportion as if they are big. Rather than something big, which will look huge in comparison to the small model if you get my drift. 

03/06/2013 at 15:41

Just out of interest ( or not) onopordum means ass fart, referring to the effect it has on donkeys who consume it.

03/06/2013 at 15:47

also... if you want something to smother the building, bindweed would be your best bet.. but with caution if it got loose it's a pain in the ass to get rid of. 

Other less nasty option would be morning glory i guess. 

03/06/2013 at 15:52

Oh bindweed's a good idea! I suppose ground elder could be effective as well. A use for perennial weeds at last!

03/06/2013 at 16:21

How about morning glory, I put a stick next to one afternoon, by the evening it had attached itself right round it

03/06/2013 at 17:30

I was thinking of hops - they grow almost as you watch them.  White and Black Bryony would be good too 

03/06/2013 at 17:36

Honeysuckle behaves the same way, wrapping around things it finds as well as growing in a spiral, and in layering one for a friend's garden I found it growing at 1 inch per day.

I'm not sure how fast the Akebia's going, but it does go fast on warm, sunny days.

The problem in either case will be one of scale. Honeysuckle has leaves I'm not about to measure but let's arbitrarily call them pairs of 1 inch leaves at 2 inch intervals. Akebia's got 3 inch fans of leaves on 2 inch stalks at 6 inch intervals. You'd need some big model buildings.

Honeysuckle's reputed to be able to pull down a fence. That might be handy. It could take years, though, not months.

Either of them climbs by twining. Twining climbers have a maximum support width, so you may have to leave out all the windows to let it go in and out of the buildings.

Ground elder's certainly an aggressive thing, and grows quickly. That could be a good choice.

I'm not sure how fast brambles are but they have beautiful stems.

Willow and sycamore are hard to kill, but you'd need to get them established first, cut them right back and then build over them, on a thin and fragile platform on stilts. Ideally, for that, you'd make the ground in slabs with gaps between them to let sunlight down and plants up, and film from a very low camera angle.

If you're going for large models, like a 1:40 or 1:72 scale, an actual elder is probably a better choice than ground elder. It's fast-growing for a tree. You could have a tower block built hollow so the tree grows up the centre of it, and it would seem intact for quite a while then the treetop would emerge, and after a while it'd just burst. You might have to CGI the collapse.

Nettles seem to be one of the few things that can grow in among Himalayan balsam, so I guess they're really shade-tolerant, making them a good choice for ground-bursters. I've got some with beautiful white flowers on them here at the moment.

Bulbs tend to come up fast, especially the really tall lilies.

Famous for growing so fast you can see it happen: bamboo. Not very pretty, though, compared to some of the others.

03/06/2013 at 17:39


fidgetbones, Yes  that rings a bell , your right , thanks  . I have just renamed them . see above !

04/06/2013 at 22:09

Two further thoughts on design:

Build your city in a valley, and start filming from behind the crest of the hills overlooking it, so the ground through which the giant plants will grow is not visible.

Build a 15m track down the side of the city, put a truck on the track and put your camera on the truck, then advance it 0.5mm for each frame. At 1 frame per 10 minutes for smooth day-to-night-to-day transitions, that'll give you 208 days, which is enough for early April to mid-October. At 60 frames per second, that's 500 seconds, or 8 minutes 20 seconds, of playback, but you could skip most of the nocturnal frames, like 11pm to 3am Summer Time. LEGO is your friend here, although a gently curving track to keep the city centre in centre-frame might be a better design than a linear pass.

04/06/2013 at 22:16

Just for reference check out the short film "ruin" if you havn't already...

04/06/2013 at 22:28

Russian Vine if you're not worried about it spreading. They don't call it Mile a Minute for nothing. I know from experience. Mumbly years ago as a naive but enthusiastic gardener I asked the bloke at the garden centre to recommend a climber to cover a fence. Took a lot longer to get out than it did to cover the fence 

05/06/2013 at 19:42

Also this:

Far too fond of "camera shake," flashing lights and fades in and out, but it's got some good bits.


06/06/2013 at 12:10

Wow I wasn't expecting such a big response! Thanks for all the amazing ideas and linking me to those videos, that's definitely the look I'm going for and I just know seeing real plants will be 100x more impressive than CGI. We're still a long way off from making it but I will definitely be referencing this thread when we do. Cheers everyone!

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