Counting thousands of dollars in losses after a series of major plant thefts at the Andromeda Botanical Gardens in the past week, the management of the six-acre St Joseph property is now forced to tighten security at the property.
Sharon Cooke, owner of Passiflora Ltd, the operators of the tropical gardens, told Barbados TODAY she was saddened, shocked, disappointed and angry that plants of all varieties and sizes were stolen from the property owned by the Barbados National Trust.
“I am hurt. If I talk about it too much I will just cry because this is just a real shock. I have been there eight years and this is the first time that this has ever happened. We have had people stealing hoses and equipment before, but now somebody has decided to go through and just take many plants.
“They took donated plants. They took special plants. They took mature plants. They took pots and they ripped plants out of pots. This is really disappointing. We would never expect people to just go through the garden pulling out plants. This is thousands of dollars in losses when I look at the value of the plants that were stolen,” Cooke said.
She said at a time when the top tourist attraction is struggling to grow financially after being significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, management now has to find the resources to install security cameras on trees and strategic points across the garden.
The curator explained that in 2020 about four hoses, bags of potting mix, and a weed wacker were stolen from the garden, leading to the installation of lighting in specific areas.
“I don’t think I have a choice but to tighten the security. I don’t know how, but somehow I have to get some money to get some security cameras to put them on the trees and stuff like that.
“We are struggling. We are not wealthy. I took over Andromeda Gardens because I think it is one of the greatest gardens ever, given its context.
“It is incredible but everyday it’s been a struggle. I do it because I love it, I love that garden so much and it is important for it to be a hub for the local community. You can’t be creating something quite lovely for the community, for somebody in the community to say ‘I will take these, I will take that, I will take this,’ Cooke said.
One of the gardeners at Andromeda Botanical Gardens Troy Brewster said he first discovered plants missing last Saturday. He said when he returned to work on Monday after an off-day, he noticed that additional plants were also missing.
“Monday plants were missing, Tuesday plants were missing and Wednesday plants were missing again. On Wednesday, I realised the direction the person was entering the garden from. But all they had to do was ask the person responsible for the garden and she would have given them some. The person went all through the garden just pulling out plants.
“She [Cooke] just bought a whole lot of plants for the garden and some of the plants I had donated. They even pulled out palm trees from big plant pots, and took up some of the plants in our potting area. There is a cost to keeping this garden so that people can come and enjoy it,” Brewster said.
Cooke said the matter has been reported to the police.