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Plant thefts leave Nanoose volunteer gardeners frustrated

Volunteers note increase in thefts from Eswyn’s Alpine & Rock Garden
A jump in thefts of rare plants, such as an alpine mint bush native to Australia, from Eswyn’s Alpine & Rock Garden at Nanoose Place has frustrated volunteers. (Submitted photo)

Thefts of rare alpine plants from a Nanoose Bay garden have left volunteer gardeners frustrated.

Elaine Bohm says it’s far from the first time plants have gone missing from Eswyn’s Alpine & Rock Garden at Nanoose Place, but lately there has been an increase in incidents. Most recently an alpine mint bush native to Australia was taken.

“They really take a long time to grow and they’re quite unique, you don’t find them in the nurseries here,” she said.

Volunteer caretakers have maintained the garden since its inception in 2009. Plant are purchased thanks to fundraising efforts or are raised from cuttings and seeds by members of the Alpine Gardeners of Central Vancouver Island (AGCVI).

Bohm said the cuttings can take two or three years to grow large enough to be planted in the garden.

“And then when you put them down there, within a week somebody pulls them right out,” she said.

It’s been frustrating for the volunteers, who held a big planting day last November in the snow, only to have a plant quickly stolen.

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The garden is enjoyed by locals walking in the area, but it may not be sustainable if the thefts continue at this rate, Bohm added.

“We’re about ready to walk away, you know,” she said. “It brings us to tears.”

The garden was inspired by Eswyn Lyster, who traveled the world and brought plants back to her Qualicum Beach home. When Lyster died in 2009, the plants were transplanted to the Nanoose location. It is maintained by a small group of volunteers, many of whom are now in their 80s, Bohm said.

Bohm said she has not yet filed a formal report with Oceanside RCMP and hopes getting the word out will discourage the thefts.

A security camera and warning sign are also being considered.

Bohm asks the community to help volunteers keep an eye on the garden, and anyone who possesses the ill-gotten plants is asked to return them to the garden office at Nanoose Place.

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Kevin Forsyth

About the Author: Kevin Forsyth

As a lifelong learner, I enjoy experiencing new cultures and traveled around the world before making Vancouver Island my home.
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