17 Stunning Works of Mosaïculture

The West End
The West End / The West End

Some artists work with brushes and oils; others create with chisels and marble. Still others create art from nature itself. At a triennial competition coordinated by Mosaïcultures International of Montréal, artists from around the world present arrangements of still-living plants atop mesh skeletons, creating towering exhibition pieces that put the best-trimmed privet hedges to shame.

1. Mother Earth

Denis Savard

This outstanding entry in the 2013 Mosaïcultures International competition stars a larger-than-life Mother Earth—an appropriate guest to have at a horticultural exhibit. She’s in good company: More than 200 artists have contributed to the event, representing regions of Europe, America, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.

2. Mighty Ducks

Mosaïcultures International of Montreal

This quirky water-based piece, energetically titled Mallards Taking Off!, was Quebec’s own contribution to the very first MIM competition, which they hosted in 2000. The competition was themed, simply, “The Planet is a Mosaic.” Those early entries over a decade ago established the practice of mosaïculture as an international pursuit, with participating organizations from 14 countries and more than 30 cities. Quebec chose to pay homage to their ubiquitous water birds—perhaps after comparing notes with the team from Boston, Massachusetts, who submitted a display of more sedately posed swans.

3. We’ll Always Have Paris

Mosaïcultures International of Montréal

This all-natural replica of the famed Eiffel Tower (submitted, naturally, by the city of Paris) from 2006 wins no points for originality, but quite a few for structural integrity. For increased accuracy, the creators might have thought to include hordes of miniature tourists wielding cameras and grinning cheesily.

4. China’s Got A Winner

Mosaïcultures International of Montreal

The 2000 entry from Shanghai, China, blew away the competition to win the first-ever Grand Honorary Award for both 2-D and 3-D works. The piece, Two Dragons Playing With a Pearl, paid appropriate homage to the Asian nation’s rich cultural aesthetic while mastering the very modern art of mosaïculture.

5. A Pretty Good Wall

Mosaïcultures International of Montreal

While Pekin (Beijing), China’s 2003 entry doesn’t quite possess the imposing stature of the real Great Wall’s nearly 4000 miles of stone fortification, it looks far sturdier than the average garden sculpture. If defense-readiness were a criterion for judging, we’d have a clear winner.

6. Flipper

Mosaïcultures International of Montreal

When Hong Kong hosted the MIM competition in 2006, their leaping dolphins impressed audiences with artfully placed jets of water that made them appear mid-jump.

7. Acropolis Now

Mosaïcultures International of Montreal

In a throwback to their classical heritage, participants from Athens, Greece reconstructed Athena’s temple for Mosaïculture International 2006. One of the themes that year included “illustration of the architecture of the city the participant comes from,” and what better example of Athenian architecture than the Parthenon itself? Still considered today to be the most perfect archetype of the Doric style ever built, a temple good enough for the goddess is certainly good enough for us lowly mortals. The Olympic rings out front are a nice added touch, serving as both a reminder of the Winter Games taking place that year in Turin, and of the original Olympics founded by Greeks thousands of years ago.

8. Face-Off

Andre Vandal

What this flat masterpiece lacks in dimensions, it more than makes up for in sheer size. The 2-D mosaic’s finer details might be lost in an up-close viewing on the ground, but the view from above reveals this piece’s real artistry.

9. Flora and Fauna

Andre Vandal

There’s something to be said for the self-referential nature of larger-than-life flowers made of flowers.

10. Man’s Best Friend

The West End

This shaggy pup is constructed entirely of a variety of sedge, a grassy plant family that includes such diverse cousins as water chestnuts, sawgrass, and papyrus.

11. Butterfly Effect

Andre Vandal

Another 2-D entry into the 2013 competition, this brightly hued butterfly spreads wings made of over a dozen different flowering plants.

12. The Nervous Horseman


This uneasy-looking fellow is a rarity in the competition, one of the few full human figures shown in any sort of action pose. Although he looks to be securely perched on his horse, his anxieties might be due to a considerable size difference between himself and his pony pal.

13. Won’t You Be My Neigh-bor?

Andre Vandal

Horses appear to be a popular theme for mosaïculturists. This particular equine scene eschews living plants for the bulk of its materials, instead opting to use loose branches of salvaged wood. What’s impressive is how little work seems to have gone into shaping the wood: the branches maintain their natural shape, and together their bumps and bends still clearly convey two horses in three dimensions.

14. Head and Shoulders

Denis Savard via Flickr

This Easter Island-inspired head is plenty big compared to the man tending to its top, but the real moai on which it was modeled have been measured to a height of over 32 feet. At least there’s no mystery as to how this one got here.

15. How Does Your Garden Grow?

Guy Boily c/o MIM

Are those cabbages you see? Not quite. This clever play on plants is simple, but sweet.

16. Planet of the Apes

Guy Boily c/o MIM

These stern-looking primates evolved from grass.

17. Garden Guardian

Eric Sonstroem

This green lady is featured in the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s current exhibit, entitled “Imaginary Worlds: Plants Larger Than Life.” It is the largest piece of the 19 “living sculptures of fantasy delight,” measuring 25 feet tall. Atlanta is the first botanical garden in the U.S. to host an exhibit in conjunction with Mosaïcultures International of Montreal.