PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER ONE
Watch out for the garden nickers
The propagation of plants is an art form for many gardeners and taking cuttings can be a really enjoyable occupation.
However, some people seem unable to resist the lure of the promise of a ‘free’ plant, and act as if everyone else’s carefully tended borders are fair game.
Sadly, for many of the garden owners who open their plots to the public, the rise of the dreaded Plant Nicker seems to be on the increase.
Some of my favourite plants have come from cuttings freely given by friends and colleagues, and I’m happy to do the same for others, as long as they ask first.
We can all ‘spread the love’ by sharing our plants in this way. I have several roses, for example, which I know only as ‘Fred’s rose’, or ‘Jo’s rose from a Cornish churchyard’, in tribute to the person who gave me the cutting from which they grew. I hasten to add that in the case of the latter, my friend Jo did ask the vicar first. If she hadn’t, I suppose she might have been referred to forever after as one of the Vicar’s Nickers.
Trouble is, the popular horticultural term to ‘take’ a cutting, seems to be interpreted literally by the Nickers of Cuttings, legitimising their grubby trade, and turning the downright theft of plant material into a skilled art form.
I’m thinking of those who visit open gardens during the summer armed with copious handbags (and man-bags because, gentlemen, this applies to you too), secateurs at the ready, as they wait for the opportune moment to dive into a shrubbery and snaffle some tempting piece of material.
Most of the time, these seemingly respectable characters get away with it, but I do know one local owner who is fighting back. He has an uncanny aptitude for spotting Nickers, and will sometimes lurk amongst the foliage, from whence he’s been known to leap out, pouncing on anyone foolish enough to try to steal from his plant collection.
One such Nicker (a so-called lady, although I’m sure she doesn’t deserve the term) was duly chastised in full public view, and banished forever. She should, I think, have her face permanently plastered, outlaw-style, on posters at every garden in the country, or at least be named and shamed on a Facebook page.
Now there’s an idea for someone who likes technology (and, I hasten to add, it’s not me, as I’d much rather be rootling about with my cuttings than playing on a computer).
Couldn’t someone start an online ‘Wanted’ website to warn the owners of gardens about known Nickers? Mind you, putting ‘Garden Nickers’ into a search engine might get you a lot more than you bargained for.