Monday, March 4, 2024
Hort Journal March 2023
Editors editorial

A heartbreaking occurrence

Most of us know what it feels like to have something stolen. It creates a sinking feeling that hits you in the gut. When it comes to plants, that takes it to another level! One day I came out into my front garden (which doesn’t have a fence) and found that a massive clump of bromeliads had simply been ripped out. I couldn’t believe people could be so selfish because like most people who garden, I am happy to share when asked. When I have been working in my garden and people comment on my plants, I will usually offer a cutting or a pup. Fortunately, I have the mother plants in my back garden. It’s the feeling of the unknown. Who did it? A feeling that almost turns you into Miss Marple wanting to figure out who could have done such a thing; quite often we never find out.

So, when I heard on the news about the theft of 900 rare orchids from Kings Park and Botanic Garden in Perth, I was  not only disgusted but concerned for all the staff and people who have been involved in collecting, growing and nurturing, and finally planting these beautiful and endangered plants for all to share their beauty. The theft I experienced was nothing compared to this. My heart went out to all the people that feel passionate about conservation and the preservation of rare and endangered plants and wildlife.

I spoke with Dr Belinda Davis, Research Scientist – Orchid Conservation,from Kings Park who said it was very sad and disappointing, not only for everyone at the gardens but for the public as well. Dr Davis and her team were involved in collecting the seed and the fungi required for seed germination, and said the thieves would probably not understand the translocation program required for successful growth, from collection, to growing and then from glasshouse to soil. The plants in the display, which had been planted over a two-year period, were dormant, so it would appear the thieves knew exactly what they were after.

The team are keen to continue their work, perhaps with a revised planting policy but this incident has set them back around four years. If there is a business out there that may like to sponsor a more sophisticated security program, please get in touch to ensure we all get to see the fantastic work that is created by Kings Park and indeed all Botanic gardens. One of the benefits of having such displays at the garden is to prevent people going out into the bush and causing damage to the environment.

It’s very sad for all and perhaps a warning to other gardens and business to beware. We sincerely hope the perpetrators are apprehended and fined the maximum penalty. You can read more about this incident in a media release in this issue.

On a brighter note, there are a lot of horticultural events on the calendar. If you can attend and support our industry, I am sure the organisers will be hugely grateful. I hope to see you at many of these events.

Enjoy the read.

Karen Smith and your Hort Journal team

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