As Sean Spicer scrambled to explain to reporters why President Donald Trump suddenly decided to fire FBI director James Comey last week, the White House press secretary huddled with his staff near a clump of bushes, The Washington Post’s Jenna Johnson reported.
Spicer reluctantly agreed to answer some questions, standing in near darkness between two tall hedges with more than a dozen reporters closely gathered around him. (A story update clarified that Spicer was ‘‘among bushes’’ and not actually ‘‘in the bushes.”)
Memes of Spicer hiding in — or among — bushes quickly spread on social media (including in the Boston area), and late night hosts such as Stephen Colbert and Seth Myers latched on. Melissa McCarthy’s Spicer character even appeared on SNL crouching in shrubbery peering into a White House press conference.
Meanwhile, a professor in British Columbia had an idea. Lisa Kadonaga, who teaches geography at the University of Victoria, noticed the photos circulating on social media featuring images Spicer’s face poking out of hedges.
‘‘My neighbors have a hedge kinda like that,’’ Kadonaga told Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News. She decided that her hometown - known for its plentiful greenery - would provide the ideal bushes for Spicer to hide among, she told the Canadian Press.
So she found a headshot of Spicer - taken by photographer Chip Somodevilla for Getty Images - and had it blown up and printed. She placed it in shrubbery at a local bank in Victoria, and shared a photo of the display with her Facebook friends.
Kadonaga posted the photo on Facebook ‘‘as a chuckle for a few people,’’ she told CBC News. ‘‘I was really stunned as the picture of the preparation and the installation in the bushes kinda took off.’’
‘‘Presenting the ‘Garden Spicer,’’’ Kadonaga said in her Facebook post Thursday. ‘‘Now you too can have the White House press secretary in - or rather, ‘‘among”* - the bushes in your yard. And hey, if you’re concerned that when exposed to the outdoors, the image will run . . . no worries, that’s exactly what Sean Spicer does, so it’s totally authentic!’’
As of Tuesday, the post had been shared more than 110,000 times on Facebook and has been picked up by news outlets worldwide. After receiving hundreds of requests for the Spicer image, she uploaded it to the file hosting service Dropbox.com, spurring so much traffic that the overwhelmed site temporarily shut down her account, CBC News reported.
Since then, Spicer’s face has been popping up in gardens around the world - in the District of Columbia, California, even New Zealand. Spicer has been spotted hiding in household planters, in shrubs outside the Watergate Hotel, and even in Mother’s Day bouquets of flowers.
Kadonaga believes many people might be sharing the photos out of sympathy toward Spicer. She told Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News that everyone has been in Spicer’s situation at least once - times in which they’ve been told to go out and do a job without the right tools or information.
‘‘I think it really struck a chord with people, realizing, ‘gee, that could be me up there,’’’ she said.
‘‘I do feel sorry for the guy,’’ she added to the Canadian Press.