A serious matter of pebble theft…

In the absence of a garden of my own, or an overgrown and overpopulated grow room and invading raccoons to blog about (I liquidated and left my favourite orchids in the care of my friend Jocelyn of Beaver Valley Orchids when I left Toronto), I am turning more and more to the British media. The British take their gardening very seriously, and google searches uncover a treasure trove of deliciously eccentric horticultural news.

I don’t think they mean to be, um, eccentric. It’s just that they’re so… earnest. Take this news story:

TV garden makeovers blamed for beach ruin.

Amateur gardeners keen to re-create designs seen on television have been taking pebbles, often by the sack-load, from Chesil Bank, which forms part of the Jurassic Coast world heritage site in Dorset.

Could the heroic Ground Force crew be responsible for this outrage? The cuddly and charming Alan Titmarsh? The delectible russet-haired amazon woman Charlie, who wears tight t-shirts and forgets to wear a bra while she swings a shovel? I quote: “Only in England could hefty shoulders, two visible nipples, a Hampshire burr and a penchant for gardening turn a 33-year-old yokel (“earthy country girl” are the words she prefers) into a household sensation.”

For many years, visitors have taken the odd keepsake from the beach, perhaps an unusually-shaped stone to display on a mantelpiece or to decorate. Recently, however, the odd pebble has turned into tons – taken to create garden features.

In the most extreme cases, pilferers have driven on to the beach at night with tractors and trailers to scoop up pebbles and shingle. Others have used wheelbarrows or sacks.

I admit this is a serious matter. It’s weakening the beach and poses a threat when big storms batter the coast. But I had to giggle when I read this:

In most cases when Mr Moxom and his colleagues (nature reserve wardens) have seen people taking pebbles, they have simply spoken to those involved.

However, in a few cases, offenders have driven off and police have been called in to track them down from their vehicle registrations and retrieve the pebbles.

I’ll bet the cops just love those calls. “Police. Open up. Put the shovel down and back away from the pebbles!!!”.