Thursday, 31 May 2007


I see that some gardeners around the country have to clamp down their pots and flowers. This is because of a spate of plant thefts from people’s gardens.

This by no means is a new phenomenon. I can cast my mind back quite a few years when I was doing some work on my garden in Nottingham, England. I had built a large circle in the middle of my lawn and decided that it needed a central focal point. My mother had a giant eight-foot yucca in her garden that had outgrown its place so I obliged by painstakingly digging it up. I had the problem of getting it to my house but after wrapping the roots in a dustbin liner bag I struggled onto the 18:30 train avoiding the funny looks I was getting on the half an hour journey. . From the centre of the city I walked with the plant for half an hour up a steep hill until I was back at home. The yucca was no worse for wear (unlike me!) and as soon as I got home I planted it proudly in the centre of the circle I had prepared. It looked very majestic, and probably still does, wherever it is. The plant only lasted in the garden overnight. When I woke up the following morning it was gone, stake as well, leaving just a large hole in the centre of the bed.

Pinching plants is big business; it’s costing us growers in England and Ireland at least 150 million euro a year or more. I was talking to a rose grower once who lost all of his stock overnight to a team of night crawlers in a lorry. That alone cost him about 100 thousand euro. The team were in and out of his site in two hours. Callous thieves have realised it is easy money and have even stolen a lawn from a 90-year-old woman, taking the new turf away in wheelie bins. Thankfully we don’t seem to have much of a problem here in Inishowen. In the years that I was growing plants in Clonbeg I had just one container pinched. I was more used to people leaving plants in the garden for me than any disappearing!

The councils around Inishowen have had a few problems though. Most of them are when people are too drunk to realise what they are doing and roll into a flowerbed. There have been a couple of random acts of vandalism of containers, probably by people again with too much drink taken. There were one or two instances where the acts were obviously planned though. One person was caught filling their car boot up with rose bushes from a bed (who apparently claimed they thought they were there for the taking) and then there were three hundred hedging plants stolen from the shorefront in Buncrana last year. Obviously not a random act, but something that was well planned. There’s not much lower someone can go than to pinch plants from gardens or public places for profit. Taking milk off of the doorstep or emptying the coal bunker perhaps?


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