This summer, the city of Washington’s Real Estate Department was concerned about the appearance of containers of flowers on municipal property. Hundreds of ipomace and other flowers mysteriously appeared along subway escalators on the city’s north side. The horticulturist was identified on June 3, when subway workers discovered a polite letter signed with Henry Docter’s name. The message contained a request to continue the placement of hundreds of containers of flowers planned a week earlier.
Arrest, fine and imprisonment for growing flowers
Subway officials responded to the letter they received with a categorical denial and a ban on continuing what they had begun, threatening arrest, fines, and imprisonment for any further attempts to weed, water, or otherwise care for the flowers. The authors of the ban reported that, out of concern for the citizens, they sought to prevent potential injuries to Dockter or any other gardener in caring for plants on steep rocky slopes.
Henry Docter, a 52-year-old botanist who has been growing flowers in public places on four continents since 1979, commented on the statement as follows: “I have never been injured from working with flowers, and this is the first time I have encountered such an example of a lack of common sense about my actions.”
Dockter, who calls himself a “mystery gardener,” doesn’t deny that the idea smacks of madness, but it’s a job he’s been doing for 34 years. “With flowers, nature shows us how beautiful life can be,” he says. Another, more famous, example of this artist’s secret landscaping is the appearance of some 40,000 flowers at American embassies in Israel, Argentina, Spain and Cambodia.