All Aboard the Helsinki Plant Tram, A Whimsical Urban Garden Made on the Move

Over the past three days, one of Helsinki's tram lines has been carrying some unusual cargo -- living plants donated by passengers for inclusion in an amusement-park-themed urban garden built from recycled timber on a disused industrial site in the Finnish capital.

Inspired by an iconic wooden roller coaster built for the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, the Plant Tram Urban Garden was commissioned by the British Council and conceived by the London-based landscape practice Wayward Plants as a "participatory project" utilizing the city's local transport network to build the whimsical garden.

In addition to hopping on the Plant Tram, a special car that ran on Helsinki's regular transit line from Sept. 5-7, and donating plants to the cause, residents are being encouraging to help Wayward Plants and its local partner, the environmental group Dodo, map out current and potential urban growing spaces along the Plant Tram route.

"Do you know of a community growing space in Helsinki? Have you passed a site with growing potential?" Plant Tram's website asks. "Tell us about the site! Is it an existing community garden, a guerrilla garden, or a private garden that uplifts a street? Or is it a forgotten space, a vacant lot, an open rooftop, or a plot of land with growing potential?"

The weaving wooden Plant Tram Urban Garden itself will stay on display at Suvilahti, an old power plant and gasworks in the north east of the city, through Sept. 16 as part of World Design Capital Helsinki 2012.

During the run of the exhibition, "20 large mobile planters will provide seating and fruit tree planting for a mobile orchard besides the large structure. A shipping container will also be converted into a temporary tram station next to the garden, filled with maps detailing the journeys the plants have travelled." After the design show concludes, Dodo will reconfigure the Plant Tram Urban Garden as a permanent growing space for the city.

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