Back in early 2009 when the frost and snow was thick about, I was on the early morning dog walk when I spotted, sticking out of the snow, what was unmistakebly the foliage of an orchid. On closer inspection this view was confirmed with a second plant closeby. Although I had no idea of their identity, I set about extricating the two plants from the surrounding vegetation and took them home.
Once cleaned and potted up it was clear one of the plants was not going to survive but the second appeared to be fairly healthy and about a month later it began to grow and eventually, in early June it began to flower with rather attractive flowers. Once it did flower I realised I hadn't got a clue to its identity but eventually I have narrowed it down to a Dendrobium, I think! It carried on flowering, eventually with a total of three spikes until just before Christmas when the final flower, pictured below, shrivelled. Hopefully with a bit of TLC over the winter the process will be repeated next year.
This story in itself is only a mildly (if that) interesting anecdote of no real botanical significance because quite obviously these plants were not native, both were still in their damaged pots and I am probably guilty of theft.
Those orchids are however symbolic of one particular antisocial habit that really gets my goat, namely that of casual garden rubbish disposal. We are lucky in Banstead, the town is almost encircled by countryside, whether it be downland, woodland or farmland, public or private. Unfortunately a small proportion of the population regard this as an opportunity not to walk and appreciate the flora and fauna but to rid themselves of assorted garden rubbish. Some literally throw it over the garden fence when they are lucky (!!) enough to live in a situation where this is possible, others take more trouble to transport it to the site. Some will even barrow it many yards into woods to hide it from obvious view.
The strange thing is that if you talk to any of the guilty individuals they usually can see nothing wrong in what they do and find it difficult to believe that technically it is fly-tipping, something of course they would never do.
So, if any are`reading this, unlikely I know, here are a few points to consider:
1) This habit results in unsightly festering piles of rotting plant material that disfigure the countryside. Worse since you rarely bother to sort out pots, labels and other sundry materials you are contributing to the ever-increasing amount of non-biodegradable rubbish in our countryside.
2) By throwing out plant waste you encourage those even more selfish individuals who see a pile of rubbish anywhere and assume that it is the local tip. They start off with other garden refuse such as wooden fencing (chain-link fencing in one local example) and then eventually any rubbish they have.
3) Garden refuse frequently contains viable plants that can be the source of invasive alien species that can cause long-term damage to the habitat.
4) Compost heaps are excellent ways of disposing of garden waste producing a useful endproduct. Failing that, for a small charge the Council will take it away and compost it for you.
5) and finally, what you do is classified as fly-tipping, anti-social and illegal.
Please stop doing it.