A public garden near a popular Courtenay walkway was vandalized this summer, but those who look after the space are grateful the damage to the plants is not permanent.
Upon arriving at their monthly work party in mid-July, volunteers from The North Island Rhododendron Society (NIRS) noticed some branches chopped and left scattered on the ground at the Comox Valley Rhododendron Garden (CVRD), explained Maureen Denny, co-ordinator of the garden.
“They looked a little bit gangly; some of the lower branches were ripped or cut, and we don’t know the reason. It’s more of a visual thing than a health thing.”
The garden is located off Cliffe Avenue at the main entrance to the Courtenay Airpark walkway, behind the train building and the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce building.
It was created in 1997 as a joint project between the City of Courtenay and the NIRS. Since the beginning, it has been maintained by the NIRS members and the Courtenay Parks Department through a ‘Partners in Parks’ program.
Denny explained while the damage is unexplainable, the cut branches did not remove any bark from the Rhodos.
“If the bark is ripped off the trunk, then it really would be vulnerable to disease. When we prune, we go along and we make a proper pruning cut.”
Additionally, one garden identification sign was missing. In August, Denny said the group discovered similar vandalism again, but some signs in the garden were defaced with spray paint.
“We brought (the damage) to the attention to the City of Courtenay. We love that place and so many of those plants are quite old.”
The gardens contain approximately 130 varieties of Rhododendrons, some of which were hybridized by the late Harry Wright, founding member of the club.
Anyone with information or may have noticed suspicious activities in the gardens are asked to contact the City of Courtenay or the NIRS through their website at www.nirsrhodos.ca.