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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Warham Road at Harringay Passage: Plants stolen from public planter

Just in case anyone happened to see it...my children and I cleaned out one of the 'public' planters at junction of Warham Rd and Haringey Passageway over weekend, a really unfun job as full of dead prickly plants. Then we also replanted it with 3 small rosemary and 3 lavender plants.

Someone today (3 days later) saw fit to take all 6 new plants out of the planter in broad daylight. Hard to better our neighbourhood when people do such things. Harder still to believe no one saw it happening (we weren't home).

Photos above of pre-clean up, after we planted and now. Yes I am very aware people steal potted plants off the Ladder, but pulling them out of dirt of a public planter (well watered in etc) is a depressing new low. 

Tags for Forum Posts: harringay passage, planters, warham road

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Unfortunately this has happened so many times over the years as various members of the street have tried to take care of them. Lavender in particular is seen as very high value and we've had only one survive the plant thieves (the one which died in the heatwave last year). One neighbour planted lots of geraniums. All gone within a week. Basically anything that people can recognise and think will look nice in their garden! Another neighbour, who worked shifts, caught a middle-aged dog walker first thing in the morning, taking the plants that we were putting in almost weekly! I had to go out and speak to another older woman who was basically taking every bloom we had and putting them into her bag. We even put up signs made by the kids asking people not to steal as kids had planted things but...well... we couldn't even shame them that way.

I'm really grateful that you did this and I know other neighbours will be too. It is also very disheartening when passersby undo your hard work. We switched from plants that people can pull out to seeds and bulbs. Maybe as you've prepared the soil so well, you can find some autumn bulbs to plant with the children. Another option is to plants seeds like calendula. 

Unfortunately, the heat waves of the last two years have made growing things in the full sun there very difficult as people who used to water have all moved away. I no longer have the time I did to do more than de-litter and tidy. So it's great that you are taking time out to go and work on them. I'm sorry that this has happened but please don't give up. 

thanks, yes we had planned to do bulb in the autumn but are currently quite bitter about it. I find it shocking that neighbours would think it is OK to take plants that are clearly intended for the benefit of all (set aside the thefts of plants off peoples's front gardens). We in fact finally decided to try because we do have the ability to water, and had committed ourselves to doing so. ;-(

one other question Liz, do you know why it would be that the planters - on the public passageway - are completely ignored by the Council? Were they installed by a neighbourhood group long ago? I never could understand that part of this equation, we've lived here only for about 5 years so don't know any back story...

Yes they went in quite a few years ago now when we had Neighbourhood management teams as part of a community initiative. We did get some help from the council at first with soil, compost etc but that has not been available because of lack of cash. None of the planters on the ladder now get cared for so a group of us took them over but people move, get too much to do, etc and unless new people step up they don’t get care. Environmentally, summers have got hotter so our planters tend to look better in Spring and Autumn. The heat of summer now makes it difficult to keep much alive. Last year all the old standbys died (calendula, valerian, lavender etc) so it’s a bit of a clean slate if people want to try and revive them. But we had to learn the hard way that not everyone appreciates the work. I’ve been through many a rage not just about theft but also damage like heads pulled off flowers and chucked about or stems broken). Now I’m trying to be a bit more zen about it and try and out garden the devils. Over the years we’ve had some good successes too so it’s worth plugging away as it is with any garden

I see...thank you for this and  your other insights. We felt that since we had water installed we could help finally (before we had water access installed we knew we could not do it well..). Sad to know it has always been a battle, seems so counterintuitive. 

Don’t be too downhearted. We had some spectacular successes too. Take a look

you all did a wonderful job, a decade ago they were really such a joy and a wonderful addition to the neighbourhood. It's hard to know if anything like that could happen again. Although I understand that the plants kept getting stolen so..

Not all plants were stolen. Some, probably most, just died off eventually or moved themselves elsewhere. The wallflowers were never touched and, stuff grown from seed, or bedding plants were rarely taken. I don’t have the time to grow my own anymore so I don’t have a ready supply. Another neighbour used to bring stuff from her allotment and greenhouse but she’s moved away now and the man who used to plant up a lot isn’t up to it now. I’m going to try again with mint in the autumn,  but I think I’ll need to feed the soil first and wait until the rains return before I do anything. We had a marvellous crop of rocket this year, I spotted a harvester or two. One year, I grew chard and that got harvested too which was good. Like I said, even in a decade the weather has grown hotter and not much can tough out 40 degrees in full sun. So Summer is never that good in the beds any more 

Hi Liz - I sent you a 'connection request' here so that I may email you here and ask for your insight re 'best plants over the years' for these planters so we can have better success next attempt..hope you see it.. thank you..

Well done for trying - depressing that it's superficially decent people who are stealing the plants. Did you get any sense of what's going on in their head when they do this, Liz?

Not really. I think sometimes they think they are stealing from the council not their neighbours so it’s “okay” (it’s very much not). Also the, “if it’s in the street, you’ve only yourself to blame” (basically you’re asking to be robbed) argument. Like littering, it’s not always easy to know what goes through people’s heads when they do this kind of thing. The two people we’ve caught probably saw themselves as utterly respectable and wouldn’t dream of walking into a garden to pull up plants. (So saying I once found another elderly lady harvesting all the mint in my garden while her grandchildren remonstrated with her. They were mortified when I came out the front door!) 

This is awful.  I walked past your planter the other day and thought how lovely it looked. I'm really sorry this happened after all your effort. Gutting : (



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