Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Friday, 2 May 2014

'Operation Bumblebee'


Britta Huegel

When I read the last post of Tom Stephenson about bumblebees, I remembered the story about the theft of a complete garden in England.
A man was moving within Bristol, and when later his wife drove to their old home, the 300 square meter garden was gone.
"Shrubs, trees, fieldstone terrace, flowers, borders, the pseudo-antique sun dial, benches, garden table (together with chairs), (...) wishing well, Italian platters, (...) garden fence, (...) all of it gone." As well as trees as tall as a man and two fishponds (with 17 kois).
In England "Garden-crimes" are no longer rare. One million gardens get plundered per planting-season, and the damage runs up to 105 million Pounds Sterling, say the insurance companies. Per year!
The police started the "Operation Bumblebee" - though the fast-seller was the bumlebee-coloured brochure, the thefts go on.
The more I read, the more alarmed I got. (Smiley, smiley!!) Could that happen to us too?
Mostly I would miss Vita Sackville's beautiful bench, the expensive basalt paving stones on which it stands, though the shimmering quartz square stones weren't cheap either. And the plants? Well - the rhododendrons are quite big, the virburnum, the Alpine azalea, the many, many box hedges, the roses, the rose arches and the rose obelisk, and the great perennials...  Gulp - that will amount to quite a sum. How lucky that no insurance agent is near - at the moment I might make an easy victim :-). Garden-household insurance. Everything insured except the the mouseprint - which of course would exclude everything, except the ground elder, the hazel bushes and the elder - and those not even thieves would want to steal.
I remember my neighbour from Kalenberger Moat. Two years ago she stood aghast in her front garden. She had planted twelve expensive precious roses, all along the house. And suddenly, one morning, they had vanished. Thieves had come under the screen of night, had digged out all the roses, put them on a hanger and disappeared , never to be seen again.
The chef of "Gardening Which?" let conceptualise an exemplary burglar-proof garden, "Safe Heaven" (or was it haven?). With hidden infrared-transmitters, bevelled pickets, and blackthorn, holly and berberies - all very defensive.
I ponder over my garden: seen under this aspect Vita's wild rose hedge is at least a success. To surmount the devil sheet might be difficult. Spiky roses all side long to the neighbour at the right. At left spiky common juniper - and how good that I never got a grip on the blackberries behind!
And the old wrought iron fence in the frontgarden has dangerous spikes. Now I understand why there are these ugly shards of glass on the corner wall - maybe in 1902 there was another person afraid for his hostas and his distinguished lilacs?
White gravel I have spread bewteen the box hedges (though there is always a little less for scrunching after each weeding). The only weak point is the garden entrance behind the house. But even at this entrance Husband and Son always complain about the deep-hanging roses on the rose arch. Now I have a new argument: it is part of my "Operation Bumblebee". The bumblebees and the bees have already understood that and mutter and buzz tantalizingly in the blossoms. And the blackbirds wear little caps and feel like Deputy Sheriffs.
"Colin Warburton, Bristol's John Lackland, has only a scornful snorting for these 'plant protection products'." "It's no use as long as nobody intervenes", he says. His neighbours had watched the repotting action as cool as a cucumber - assuming that it was part of the move." (Zeit-Magazin)
In my garden they wouldn't even be able to see anything, the neighbours...


14 comments:

  1. Your garden sounds enchanting. It's magical wards will hold against thieves and forces of evil. That is my professional opinion!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Geo,
      your opinion as a gardener means very much to me (of course your opinion as a poet and human being too). The garden I made in Hildesheim was really a beauty, and it was as if I had parted from a beloved person, when we finally went to Hamburg, then Berlin - a step we never regretted, except I for the loss of my garden. I can still see it these days - as husband works in Hildesheim 4 days a week, and uses one flat in our house - but ten years I saw how our tenant, changed it to gloomy (she was a bit depressive), E.g. all 16 very old roses as Boule de Neige, Mme Isaac Pereire, Mme Alfred Carrière etc died (though she was a garden architect and quite nice), and most of the new ones too, only the Rambling Rector managed to escape high up into my gage-tree..). You see by the length of my answer how agitated I still am -- but luckily she left the "bones" of my garden intact, thus enabling our new tenants to start anew, and they do. I really enjoy their work.

      Delete
  2. How horrid that anyone would steal someone else's garden! Especially considering most gardeners would be delighted to share a plant or cutting if they were only asked.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Susan,
      one cannot imagine how they can get lucky with those stolen things. In the case of the complete garden I think they sold it part by part to unsuspecting people.

      Delete
  3. Stealing a whole garden is quite excessive, but I do think there is quite a tradition of stealing FROM gardens. In our front garden we put an old Victorian chimney pot which was removed from the top of the house. It was about waist high, and quite attractive. I grew ivy around it. One day I noticed something didn't look quite right about it. Yes, the ivy was still there. The chimney pot had gone! I was so amazed. It weighed a huge amount, as it was made of very thick ceramic.

    Thank you for your comment on my blog. I'll follow yours too as you write about such interesting things!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Jenny,
      I am glad you are here! I see your Victorian chimney before my my very eyes, and feel more deeply with you about its loss than you can imagine: I had a tiny one too in that garden of mine, and the above mentioned tenant first put it in the background, than got it broken...
      I love the view of these chimneys on the houses in England!

      Delete
  4. Mr father always was amused by our neighbor, who regularly came under cover of darkness to steal cuttings of his plants. At some point in her life she confronted him over the fence, accusing him of stealing all his plants from her, stating he should return the rest to her, post haste!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Joanne,
      oha - as we would say in Germany - "I say!" might come near to it: what a cheek! I am convinced she would have got cuttings and seeds by asking - maybe she liked the thrill of secrecy, but then later she was a bit (a bit?) over the top... That I would call "Stealing a garden in instalments", not post haste. :-)

      Delete
  5. Only you could write about this with such wit and beautiful description. I've not heard if this new larceny, but like everything else? It's surely a trend that will cross the ocean.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Pondside,
      thank you! I truly loved my garden, maybe one can feel that in my writing. Hope the steam liners don't transport that trend to you for a long time - and as to aeroplanes we all know that it is forbidden to import plants into the USA and Canada - that might apply to virtual plants too :-)

      Delete
  6. Where we are, the deer are the biggest thieves, and there's not much hope for overcoming that. We have a small plot for veg, enclosed in unattractive deer-netting. Other than that, we're out of luck!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Dear Susan,
    deers in New York? But then: Berlin complains about wild hogs in the gardens. To put a net over your veg plot is a last resort - we once thought about it when the birds munched away grapes and currants.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not in the city, but up here where we live, they own the land. We have fawns every year, as well. Earlier this year, we saw 13 deer at once in the front yard.

      Delete
    2. Wow! I always 'saw' you near Central Park - now I learn that you are "up here" - exciting! To meet 13 deer in the front yard must be intimidating - I hope they had not there fawns with them. When I followed 'The Idiot Gardener', I donated money for a deer-fence around the allotment garden area they were creating, especially for children - the deer were nibbling everything away.

      Delete