In 2015, Paige Breithart, an artist and student living in Hamtramck, Michigan, had grown tired of the countless potholes marring Hamtramck’s streets. So she took matters into her own hands, and drove around town, filling the potholes with flowers, replacing the decay with symbols of growth and beauty. The story went viral, and Breithart’s aesthetic treatment has since caught on. Look around Twitter, and you’ll find stories about flowers filling potholes around the United States, and indeed around the world.
In some cases, these guerilla projects aren’t just decorative, a simple way to spruce up a neighborhood. There’s an activist element to them. In Bath, England, one flower pot vigilante said:
In an area of America there were a load of potholes filled in with pot plants, although that’s not what we are doing here. We think it’s a good thing to do but it’s more than about making people smile. Potholes are a real problem and have the potential to be death traps for bikers and cyclists and with cars there is an issue with blow-outs to wheels. The whole point is to raise awareness of them.
And local governments are taking notice, though not always happily. Concerned that drivers might get surprised or distracted by flowers suddenly appearing in the middle of a road, politicians are discouraging this form of protest. But you can’t argue with the results. Once protesters call attention to them, the potholes have a magical way of getting properly paved and filled. Quickly.
Below you can see a gallery of potholes around the world that have gotten the flower treatment–from Missoula, Montana, to Montreal, Bath, Bosnia and Ukraine. Maybe the artist from Chicago (see image at bottom) is the one who got it right?
Terry Bartrug shares this giant pothole that he filled with flowers along 8 mile road in Wetzel county near Reader. pic.twitter.com/jZiDlZ47U7
— Jeff Oechslein (@JeffWTOV9) May 8, 2015
Missoula vigilante draws praise, concerns for filling potholes with flowers https://t.co/kzLAX0WEbb pic.twitter.com/erwQpttK7k
— KULR-8 News (@KULR) June 22, 2017
Planting Flowers In Montreal Potholes http://t.co/g1NScjR87Z #montreal #quebec pic.twitter.com/9FlgHWlJ5w
— MTL Blog (@mtlblog) May 27, 2015
WATCH: Petunias in potholes: A Corner Brook man plants flowers in protesthttps://t.co/bPwDCuyydo pic.twitter.com/tNBHk1Pceq
— CBC NL (@CBCNL) June 6, 2017
#Gardeners – Guerrilla gardeners warned to stop filling in Bath’s potholes with flowers by council officials -… https://t.co/FAvBNeoHCD pic.twitter.com/eGbdltIbld
— Garden Designer UK (@gardendesigning) May 15, 2017
Berwickshire villagers fill potholes with flowers to highlight ‘appalling’ roads https://t.co/h5Rlg43lOl
— Scottish Express (@ScotExpress) July 21, 2017
….well that’s one solution to Edinburgh’s terrible pothole problem #Edinburgh #potholes #garden pic.twitter.com/AaQ20c3aNP
— Jane Barlow (@belperbarlow) March 27, 2015
Planting flowers in potholes – great idea from the Ukraine!https://t.co/g5lCsC72nf #potholes #pothole #PotholeBlitz pic.twitter.com/lyoB2tvUlK
— RickN (@ricardon) April 14, 2017
Flowers vs pothole, unknown Niš resident protesting slow procedure for road repair https://t.co/zciJW0u2R9 pic.twitter.com/WvBegDajYZ
— Goran Urosevic (@goranurosevic) March 23, 2017
Artist solves Chicago’s pothole problem with some beautiful mosaic flowers http://t.co/DgeJFeP5jX #EmbraceNewIdeas pic.twitter.com/HgJhawKl3M
— Embrace (@ThisIsEmbrace) November 14, 2014
via Twisted Sifter/My Modern Met
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I just finished a 34 day road trip on my motorcycle and let me tell you there are some dangerous potholes out there on city streets and highways. Seeing flowers in the road would be less dangerous and distracting than my front tire blowing out or me losing control because of a pothole. However, I do think those putting the terracotta pot in the potholes have gone too far.
When city administrators say citizens should report potholes rather than plant flowers they’re not taking into consideration that most of these “urban vigilantes” have taken such drastic measures because the proper reporting procedures have not remedied the problem. In my opinion, most of the gardening road warriors must feel like they’ve been left with no other choice but to take action and force the issue.
Wow! I have never thought that this thing can also be done. Really amazing. Thanks for sharing such a great post.
My daughter is a bicycle courier in Philadelphia and I’d appreciate if she could see road hazards like potholes. When she was young I told her ‘The Legend of the Pothole Planter’ which I’d heard sometime in the 80’s so the idea lives anew