Guilty? Your Honour

You’d expect that a peaceful stroll around an open garden to be just that - placid, tranquil and relaxing. Well, it was - until I spotted something, or to be more precise, someone pilfering. Let me explain.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again now just in case you missed it… I like visiting other people's gardens for a horticultural rummage and generally eat cake, drink tea and chat gardening. The simple things in life keep me happy. So, as I was idly meandering around a lovey 2 acre garden crammed with luscious herbaceous plants, having just been satisfied by a noggin of moist lemon drizzle cake and a top class brew, I was somewhat bemused by the sight of a fellow visitor taking cuttings from a penstemon.

‘Afternoon,’ I said.
‘Afternoon,’ came the reply.
‘Nice garden?’
‘Yes.’
‘Your garden?’ I probed (Sherlock Holmes has nothing on me).
‘No.’
Taking cuttings?
‘Yes.’

Ok, it wasn’t the most riveting of conversations but I gleaned the information I needed. I had discounted that the perpetrator of this villainous act was the owner taking casual cuttings. A-ha, I thought, I had found a thief!

Our colloquy continued until my patience ran out. ‘But it’s wrong. It’s stealing. You shouldn't do it’. Then came an astonishing reply:

‘But they have plenty of plants and won’t miss a few cuttings.’

‘Plenty’, ‘won’t miss.’ Oh, come on. Maybe she (for she was a she) is a regular visitor to the British Library to half inch a book or two. After all, they have 150 million items accessible. Or perhaps it's more a case of ‘Hello BMW showroom person, you have plenty of cars on display. I’m driving one away. Why? Well, you won't miss one and because I can.’ Actually, it isn’t like that. She wasn’t lifting the whole plant, rootball intact, wrapping it in hessian and transporting it home to her own garden to plant at the same level and adding plenty of water to get the roots established. No, this was akin to going to the British Library and ripping a page from a book or whipping off a wiper blade from a gleaming BMW (other cars and car parts are available). Obviously, all of it is wrong.

We talked some more and as we ‘chatted’ (yes, no, perhaps, never, purple, sometimes, flapjack, and Renault  were among her one word replies to my intensive questioning), she slowly put down her pruning knife, plastic bags and clear water filled hand sprayer. I thought I’d talked her around. I’d allowed her to look deep inside her conscience and see the error of her ways. She’d seen the light and all that kind of caper.

‘Leave me alone. I like penstemons.’

So, I did. I could do no more. I waltzed off to the next garden on the list. But obviously not before dobbing her in to the owner, who was last spotted striding forcefully over his perfectly manicured lawn to his prized penstemons and the still crouching form of public enemy number one - the crooked cuttings criminal.

Or perhaps I am in the minority when it comes to taking cuttings from other people's gardens without their permission? Please let me know (anonymity is guaranteed).

No more questions m’lud.


You’ve just read the one word answers to previously unpublished questions. I say previously because here they are in order of cross examination:  

  • You from around here? (trying to find out an address – clever, eh?)
  • Been to the other gardens on the list? (any previous?)
  • Spent long in this garden? (establishing time of entry for CCTV footage)
  • Been caught red handed before? (strong questioning, I know, but a little bit of pressure makes them crack)
  • What colour is the penstemon? (OK, it’s a bit of a gardening question to establish why it wasn’t flowering and its variety. I suspect incorrect pruning)
  • Do you add mycorrhizal fungi when you pot up cuttings? (how experienced is this thief?)
  • Bakewell tart or flapjack? (just in case I was to get another chance at the cake stall - a recommendation is a quality piece of intelligence)
  • Name a make of car (subtle way of identifying the getaway vehicle)