Back of wild garlic bulbs alongside volunteers planting them in Mile End Park

On Saturday a group of four people decided to come and started to strip one of the Mile End Park’s woodlands of wild garlic. Volunteers had only planted the bulbs a few months before. Armed with scissors, hand trowels and four large bags the thieves spent over half an hour (according to a witness) attempting to undo the hard-work put in by volunteers, not to mention the cost of the bulbs.

During the Autumn over four weekends volunteers planted some 10,000 bulbs in the wooded areas of Mile End Park. It was a tough gig, with some pretty horrid weather. We removed a large amount of the over dominant ground ivy and brambles and then planted a good mix of native woodland bulbs. Already the Snowdrops and Winter Aconites have flowered, and now the wild garlic is starting to flower, with bluebells emerging. This succession of flowers is really good to help sustain wildlife. Give it 2-3 years and the woods will be something to really lift your spirits and provide a break from the humdrum of everyday life. But the bulbs need time to establish and multiply.

The thieves were really pretty hostile when challenged. Whilst flailing scissors around one stated that it was “Our right to take it”. Actually, the borough’s parks do not allow folk to steal plants (see park by-laws). Let’s be clear, looking at the amount involved, this was stealing to order to supply restaurants. I noticed that on some of the leaves there was lots of dog poo, and quite a bit of Lily of the Valley mixed in (which is poisonous). So if you are offered wild garlic pesto in a restaurant, think “Is it wild garlic petspoo?”

If you see anyone thieving plants from the parks then call the Park Rangers on 07951 321 051