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DC Guerrilla Gardener's Revenge Takes Form of Metro Art Stunt

Art installation erected as payback for city ripping out 1,000 flowering plants surreptitiously donated to city beautification

Lauren McCauley, staff writer

The Phantom Planter's "artistic revenge" dangles above the escalators at Washington DC's Dupont Metro Station Sunday, October 27. (Photo: @socialepicurean/ Twitter)

Washington, DC guerrilla gardener Henry Docter staged a dramatic prank at a Metro station Sunday as payback for the city's sabotage of his flowering plant installation.

Dubbed the 'Phantom Planter,' Docter has been surreptitiously beautifying public spaces since 1979.

“Flowers are nature’s way of affirming how beautiful life can be” Docter told the Washington Post, adding that he considers his plantings a form of performance art.

In early July, Docter planted roughly 1,000 seeds of morning glories, cardinal flowers and cypress vines in 176 barren flower boxes along the escalators at the Dupont Circle Metro station. A few weeks later, the city thanked him by yanking out the plants.

Now, Docter has achieved what he calls "artistic closure." The Post reports that with a pulley, plastic piping and a web of rope, Docter suspended a "6-by-6-by-4-foot boxlike artwork, which was covered with quotes about the July flower standoff" above the escalators at the Metro entrance.

"Over the next 1 hour and 46 minutes, the 30-pound box of plastic tubing, clear tape and paper, which looked a little like an avant-garde Tinker Toy, was suspended, its sides plastered with online comments [about the incident]," the Post writes.

Some of the comments included: “Beautification of civic space should be applauded, not crushed,” “Metro should nurture flowers instead of mindless bureaucrats,” and “Metro seems to deal with most problems by asking ‘What would Joseph Stalin do?’ ”

Reportedly, the piece was removed without incident.

"During this time when our country faces numerous challenges, it does not make sense to discourage and delay the creation of something beautiful," Docter wrote earlier in an online petition supporting the maintenance of the flowers. "The world is not as bad as it is often portrayed in the news. This is an opportunity for all of us to make something beautiful."


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