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Heat was the least of my worries: Summer damage 2022

2 months ago

Hi everyone,

I don't want to derail the seasonal thread so here's what's been going on this summer.

I will start by saying that my city is generally very safe, and I have good neighbors, so much so that I used to leave the door leading to my rooftop garden unlocked so they could go up there to enjoy the view (Malta loves fireworks and it's a nice spot to watch them from). They had always been respectful and never disturbed my plants.

There were two empty apartments in my building, and in late spring some squatters moved in to them. These people used the flats to carry out various illegal activities. This summer they went to the roof and began hiding the "loot" from some of these activities in my flower pots. I discovered this "stuff" in my plants and at first I didn't know what to do about it. I was afraid and so I decided to just keep quiet and leave everything where I found it. I was initially more worried about the summer heat and I was hoping the intrusion was just temporary and they would just come get their valuables eventually.

They continued to use my pots in this way more and more throughout August, and in the process they damaged many of my plants : lots of broken branches, and some of my plants started dying because of root disturbance from various things being buried in the soil.

Here you can see (left to right) some of the broken branches on the Vicks plant, broken Charles de Gaulle, a completely broken Rosemary, and snapped branch on Huddersfield Choral Society, the first time it happened. Over the next few weeks every single plant had branches broken multiple times.

I realized if it continued I would not be able to maintain the garden for long.

I started locking the door to the roof, something I'd never felt the need to do before. Then I started to receive threats to open the door or else they would break the lock... At that point I got the police involved. There were more threats after that, they wanted to get their things back before the police came to search. I denied them access and told them I would sue if they broke the locks or damaged any of my property including the plants.

My other neighbors have been very supportive, they also filed reports about the activity because these people had been also damaging the common parts (they broke the main door to the building and several letter boxes). It's good to know I am not alone in this and I hope we will win back our building durably.

I was afraid of losing my garden and it seemed pointless to continue taking care of the plants when everything was getting so badly damaged every few days. All I could do was water and prune away damaged branches.

I was also afraid for my own safety so I spent most nights at my boyfriend's place.

I started a new garden there in case I lost mine.

On the bright side, I have lots of new roses in pots over there now! I planted: - Honorine de Brabant - Mutabilis - Marie Pavie - Evelyn - The Lark Ascending - Royal Jubilee - Winchester Cathedral - Augusta Luise - Sweet Revelation - Berlingot. Also added some tomatoes, eggplant, strawberries and started a dozen papaya trees from seed.

One of the bad neighbors is now in jail (not over this but due to other mischief he was up to) and his flatmates seem to have cleared out and left for now. The police will keep checking in on my building regularly. I am cautiously optimistic that my garden may be safe for now.

Now that the coast seems clear I am nursing the rooftop plants back to health and I hope they can pull through, although some are probably beyond saving, such as Wild Edric, Blanc Double de Coubert, my Donut peach tree, licorice plant and my lemon verbena. I will try.

I am going to have a lot of feeding, trimming, repotting and root pruning to do as soon as the temperatures come down a bit, so it's going to be a busy fall!

One bit of good news is that in spite of the damage, several hips from my rose hybridizing attempts survived and are almost ready to harvest, so I can still continue with that little project this winter!

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