Caretakers frustrated with secret garden plant thefts

Some of the macrocarpa remains along the walkway.
Kris Boult

Some of the macrocarpa remains along the walkway.

The theft of numerous plants has left the caretakers of Opunake's secret garden at their wits end.

The 'Secret Garden on the Clifftop' has been a labour of love for the last five years for Rose Ratahi and Jen Trolove but they have recently been left frustrated by plants being stolen on a weekly basis.. 

"The thefts are just really disheartening," Ratahi said on Sunday. 

One of the remaining grevillea in the garden.
Kris Boult

One of the remaining grevillea in the garden.

"You just get totally peeved off."

READ MORE: * Sonja Slinger: The garden on the coastal cliffs

She suspects it must be someone that walks through or visits regularly as they always pulled out all the newly planted plants.

A patch of dirt remains after new plants were stolen at Opunake's secret garden.
Kris Boult

A patch of dirt remains after new plants were stolen at Opunake's secret garden.

"It's not there for people to take, it's our garden."

Both ladies are keen gardeners and have their own gardens open during the Taranaki Fringe garden festival.

They've had a variety of plants stolen lately, Hydrangeas, roses, succulents and a much loved Grevillea.

​"Jenny doesn't swear - but she did when her Grevillea went missing a fortnight ago." Ratahi said.

People in the coastal community would often drop off plants at the garden for Rose or Jen to put in. 

The South Taranaki District Council some times had an excess of plants if they were doing planting work and would drop them off at the garden as well.

"We don't know where they've come from, we just find a space for them," Ratahi said.

Some people have even asked ask to plant memorials in the garden there for their loved ones who have passed away.

The area was once filled with large and sprawling macrocarpa trees, some of which remain and act as a barrier to the winds and a make shift fence to the surf below.

As the trees aged, limbs broke off the trees and they were removed as they had become a danger to walkway users.

This has opened up the site up to more sun and so some locals decided to turn the once rough patch into something nice.

The pair and their husbands Les and Pete are the "four regular weeders" who have transformed the once rough patch with a path, into lush subtropical garden filled with all sorts of garden goodies.

The four have their own patch in the garden that they have lovingly looked after but were keen for more people to help out.

"Everyone that says they'll help us out then moves away."

"Sometimes people just turn up, we don't know who they are, and it's great to have extra help," 

 

 

 

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 - Stuff

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