Public 41: Gardens

Sorry — it’s late, this documentation is rushed, but I just received a few copies of Public, issue 41, Gardens, edited by Erin Despard and Monika Kin Gagnon, which features our Removable Garden project on the cover, and as a nice spread inside!

We wrote the text, which outlines some of process and ideas behind the research developing the magnetic planters, as well as some discussion around what led to wanting to develop the project in the first place.

Anyways, it’s beyond exciting to see our project in print… you should pick up a copy. There’s a huge number of great articles and discussions on the creative, resistive, and productive uses of artist and activist gardens, including selections from Adrian Blackwell and Oliver Kellhammer … highly recommended. And, while you’re at it, you could pick up a copy of Public 40, which features an article written by Dr. Michael Darroch and Kim Nelson (colleagues at the University of Windsor) on Windsor (including BCL and Green Corridor).

Tactical Gardening Workshop in Guelph

Danielle, Rosina, Michelle, and I were up in Guelph over the weekend as part of the Kazoo festival, leading a workshop on making those magnetic planters we were working on last summer .

The workshop was a lot of fun and I thought I’d post a few photos of some of the more abitious designs and fun installations of the planters in downtown Guelph. The “lookin’ good” planter above didn’t last more than five minutes — when we returned to where we put it, it was already gone.

Another planter hiding in a kind of forgotten garden. Taking a quick walk around the neighbourhood surrounding Ed Video (where we had the workshop), and putting up these planters was a lot of fun — we need to find some more time for pedestrian scale exploration in Windsor again.

Another planter  with an ambitious design on the parking meter. Thanks for having us, Kazoo, and thanks for coming out to play with us, Guelph! Making these is a lot of fun, so easy, and we still have some that survived from last summer. Maybe doing another workshop at some point is in order…

Field Tests & Exampling: Moving the Planters


I hope you’ll forgive us for the lack of posts lately. I’ve been on a film shoot all day, everyday for the last few weeks, while other BCL folks have been traveling, moving, working, and studying, and so meeting even once a week has been a challenge. Thankfully, school is literally a couple days away and with it comes some kind of stability in a schedule.

However, we’ve still been trying to get some things done, mostly it’s been this planters project and planning for our upcoming event, Welcome to the Neighbourhood. On Thursday, we did some more field tests with our planters where we’re discovering which plants have been doing better and trying to determine why.

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Field Tests!

Broken City Lab's Magnetic Planters

We’re doing some field tests of our magnetic planters with some plants in them. Basically, we want to test to make sure the soil isn’t drying out too quickly and we’re also checking to see how well some plants respond to transplants. Above, you can see there’s a wire around the planter that helps it to keep its shape—some of the planters without a wide edge on either side are more prone to open up really wide at the top, which makes it difficult for the soil to fill the planter uniformly. Without it, the soil eventually sinks and adding any more soil would risk making the planter too heavy for the magnet.

Michelle’s running these tests, checking on the plants daily and testing a few varieties of planter shapes in preparation of the installation of all of our planters sometime in the next week or so.

Magnets Installed!


Another day at BCL HQ and some more progress on this ongoing magnetic planters project. Michelle and I finished putting in the remainder of our magnets into our plastic bag planters, but there are still some more planters left over. So, with more rare-earth magnets now on the way, we’ll finish up the rest when they arrive next week.

We also have a test planter in the wild now to make sure it works as we assume it’s going to work. The other tests that I’ve done indoors have been fine, with some of the mint I transplanted actually taking root, which is really exciting! It was quite interesting to see all of these individually made designs and see the range of techniques that everyone used when making the planters as Michelle and I worked with just about every one today… we imagine it will look quite great to see them all installed (temporarily) in one place filled with plants before they’re sent off to other magnetic surfaces across the city.

Embedding Magnets


As summer rolls on, we’re continuing our work with the magnetic planters, though we now have the benefit of a front porch to enjoy the evening weather while doing so. Michelle, Josh, and I spent Monday night working on embedding the magnets into the plastic bag planters along with some more writing. We also moved some more stuff into our office and began to organize ourselves. Michelle started out by sorting the planters that had tabs on them, which allow us to fold them over the magnets and use the iron to keep them in place.


Michelle and Josh took turns with the iron—it’s been a while since we’ve worked on them, and with a different iron, we had to work out the kinks of getting the heat exactly right.


We finished up 25 planters, some of them requiring two magnets. Michelle and I will continue on with the rest sometime this week.

Learning to Transplant

some flowers

Josh and I spent some of the day in the heat collecting some interesting flowers and plants to transplant for our magnetic planters project. Overall, it was fairly successful, as we did learn quite a lot about transplanting, but we’re still going to be looking for some more plants to finish up this stage of the project (hopefully) in the next week or so.

Refining and Reworking the Planters


Another week and another day in 406 Pelissier, which as it continues is now part of Windsor’s Visual Fringe. It’s tough to find time to get down there, but I think we made the best of a few hours last Tuesday. We’re continuing work with the planters, which is (as they always seems to be) another fairly long-term research and development type of project. However, we made some great progress and some new strategies for designing the planters, and did a couple more test transplants.

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