Human Shrub strikes again

THE country's most mysterious gardener is back - and this time he's brought his wife.

Roddy Ashworth

THE country's most mysterious gardener is back - and this time he's brought his wife.

Colchester's camouflaged campaigner - called simply the “Human Shrub” - arrived unannounced with some of his followers at a weed-ridden patch of land in Hubert Road and set to work with spades, trowels and forks.

He also brought a rubbish skip which was soon being filled with unwanted vegetation ripped up from the neglected shrubbery.

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And while the guerilla gardener transformed the area into a tidy bed, his wife “Mrs Shrub” handed out Bakewell tarts to his eco-warrior helpers.

The dozen-or-so assistants had been recruited on the social networking site Facebook where the seemingly impromptu garden makeover was arranged as a “flash mob” event.

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The online invitation from the leafy horticulturalist, whose true identity is a closely-guarded secret, said: “Friends, the weeds have taken over a patch of land humans call Hubert Road.

“Tomorrow from 9:30am join me with a spade and together we can rid the land of the weeds and plant shrubs and flowers so the Bees can feast."

On his Facebook page, which boasts more than 1,600 followers from as far afield as Canada, New Zealand and South Africa, he encouraged people to bring along “hydrangeas, some box shrubs, some lavender herb some rosemary herbs, also things like Sedums to help my friends the Bees”.

It was his first public appearance since last month, when he weeded and replanted one of the council's barren town centre plant containers with small bush and flowers.

His guerilla-gardening tactic made headlines around the world after the East Anglian Daily Times first published photographs of the renegade horticulturalist in action.

Local resident Myra Kimsey, 80, was so delighted at the Human Shrub's unexpected arrival on Saturday she rolled up her sleeves and joined in to help weed the bed.

The retired canteen worker and great-grandmother-of-eight said: “It used to have lovely shrubs and plants in it, it looked beautiful.

“Then last year the council came and tore it all down and it became covered with weeds and is an absolute eyesore.”

James Downer, 11, and his mum Sandra from West Bergholt, Essex, also attended the gardening session.

The youngster said: "We brought three shrubs and four or five cuttings from the garden to plant.

“My mum was on Facebook and she was in contact with the Human Shrub and he said that we could come down and help him. We have been digging up weeds and planting.”

The Human Shrub first came to public notice in April when he paraded up and down Colchester High Street outside a council meeting protesting against plans to cut down a fifth of the town's rose bushes and road-side shrubberies to save on maintenance costs.

Shortly afterwards, in a major policy U-Turn, the council abandoned the unpopular plans.

Yesterday deputy leader of the council Martin hunt said he had been down to Hubert Road to view the Human Shrub's handiwork.

“It looks jolly nice. I've got no objection to it at all - if he does it that means we don't have to do it.

“He can go around and plant everything as far as I'm concerned.

“As it happens, our workmen were due to go to Hubert Road this week and work on it. But first they were going to put weedkiller down and then plant things in the correct season.

“I'm not a horticulturalist but I've got a horrible feeling that what he has planted will be dead soon.”

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