Toronto Artists Spruce Up Neglected Planter Boxes

planter box intervention toronto karen abel photo

Before and after 'planter intervention' by Karen Abel. Photo: Outside the Planter Boxes.

Planter boxes of flowers and trees can go a long way toward beautifying the urban environment, but they can also easily become eyesores if not tended properly. Tired of seeing boxes that had "become garbage bins with little to no vegetation at all," Toronto artist Sean Martindale issued a call for fellow artists, designers, gardeners, and urbanites to join a 24-hour "planter intervention." The results were pretty darn cool.Martindale originally planned to carry out his own planter projects, he wrote on his website, Outside the Planter Boxes, but after receiving a grant from Toronto FEAST, he decided to ask others to join in:

My call was fairly open and I suggested the interventions could take on any number of forms -- from conspicuous (and perhaps only temporary) repairs, to straightforward weeding and planting, to sculptural additions or performance. I only asked that participants use their own best judgment and please not cause any major permanent damage, create physically dangerous structures/situations, or introduce invasive or otherwise harmful species.

Shaping Public Space
Participants added tire swings to urban trees, painted poetry around the edges of planters, added new plants to empty boxes, patched up cracked boxes with LEGOs, and created paper flowers out of discarded beer cartons.

"This public project directly engages with Toronto's urban fabric," Martindale wrote, adding that he hoped to "encourage more direct participation and interest in our shared public spaces -- to demonstrate that the public can play a more consciously active role in how our city is shaped."

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