The Washington Post

Metro, community meet on the Phantom Planter

Henry Docter, 52, once planted morning glories at the Dupont Circle Metro station. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

Greenery will bloom again at the Dupont Circle Metro station. It just won’t be planted by the self-proclaimed “Phantom Planter.”

Metro officials on Tuesday unveiled plans to repopulate the stone pavers at the north entrance with pachysandra plants — a drought-tolerant ground cover partial to shade that requires little maintenance and doesn’t attract rats.

D.C. resident Henry Docter had planted several hundred flowers in the spot before Metro officials tore them out last month, citing safety concerns and rat problems.

Though he had been planting blooms since October, it was only after he sent a letter in June letting Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority officials know he would like to continue caring for the flowers that trouble began.

First came the “cease and desist” letter saying that he could be subject to “arrest, fines and imprisonment” if he continued to care for the plantings.

In response, Docter launched a petition drive (up to 9,000 signatures as of this week) to fight for his flowers and went public with his story.

Docter was unable to attend the meeting Tuesday at which Metro officials unveiled the new landscaping plan; he was in Kenya. But a friend, Jeffrey Weiss, who did attend chided Metro officials with being “heavy-handed” in dealing with Docter’s case.

Ann E. Chisholm, a Metro spokeswoman, conceded the dispute could have been handled more diplomatically but said officials hoped to make a fresh start.

Lori Aratani writes about how people live, work and play in the D.C. region for The Post’s Transportation and Development team.

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