Who can name the Human Shrub?

IT is a question worthy of the panel of BBC Radio Four's Gardeners' Question Time.Does anyone know the identity of the “Human Shrub''?

Roddy Ashworth

IT is a question worthy of the panel of BBC Radio Four's Gardeners' Question Time.

Does anyone know the identity of the “Human Shrub''?

But the question may leave even this show's resident experts scurrying for the potting shed fumbling for an answer.

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For Colchester's mysterious gardener is back.

But yet again, leading councillors have failed to see the funny side of the antics of the self-styled “Human Shrub”.

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The plant-like creature was spotted on Sunday morning tending to one of the town's neglected plant containers.

The special pots were denied fresh vegetation this year after the council's budget for flowers and shrubs was cut to save cash.

Since then they have been either empty or sprouting weeds in areas such as Balkerne Hill, the Maldon Road roundabout and the Middleborough roundabout.

It was at the latter that the Human Shrub's gardening skills were employed at the weekend.

The bushy horticulturalist first showed his tendrils earlier this year when he demonstrated outside Colchester Town Hall after the council implemented a cost-cutting policy to dig up one in five of its roadside shrubs and rose gardens.

Before a crunch meeting he ambled up and down the High Street calling for people to “save his brothers the shrubs, and sisters the roses” with a banner calling for support.

The council quickly reversed the unpopular policy and the remaining plants were spared the chop, but not before the affair was labelled “Shrubgate” by opposition politicians.

More recently, the Conservative group on the council criticised the ruling Labour and Liberal Democrat coalition for the neglect of the roadside flower containers claiming the weed-ridden pots damaged civic pride.

Perhaps spurred on by the resulting media coverage, the Human Shrub leapt into action and now the Middleborough container is full of greenery and life.

However, yesterday Martin Hunt, the Colchester Borough Council cabinet member with responsibility for municipal parks and gardens, was not feeling grateful for the leafy gardener's intervention.

He explained that a plan was in place to return flowers to the containers in the next planting season and that in the meantime they would be weeded and sealed.

But he added: “If the Human Shrub is crossing dual carriageways in order to make a political point then I think he is being very irresponsible.”

“He could get himself injured or killed, or even worse could lead to someone else being injured or killed.

“At least when he was outside the town hall he was amusingly stupid.

“This is not funny at all.”

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