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Summer 2002
 
John Cushnie On...
 

Beat the Burglar
2nd August 2004


Rosa RugosaGiven the right conditions thieves seem to be able to penetrate the most secure premises. They over-ride or ignore security systems and daylight robbery is as common as robbery during the hours of darkness.

Using plants to keep undesirables out of your home can be quite effective providing they are sufficiently tough, dense and spiny.Escallonia

The first line of defence is the boundary hedge. Locking the gate is of little use if intruders can push through the hedge. Some plants are better than others when planted as hedging. The flowering evergreen escallonia makes an attractive, dense hedge which will resist all but a lorry. Beech and hornbeam are similar in density but deciduous and without flowers.

BerberisThen there are the hedging shrubs with thorns or spines. Rosa rugosa is quick growing with spiny stems and attractive summer flowers. Berberis is available in many varieties most of which flower well. Some are evergreen with sharply pointed leaves. The spines are brutal, often up to two inches in length.



Pyracantha Pyracantha forms an impenetrable, evergreen hedge with thorny stems. The white clusters of late spring flowers are followed in autumn by yellow, orange or red berries.

An old field boundary hedge of hawthorn may need to be gapped up with young plants to make it solid. Its appearance and security will be improved by planting the pale pink flowering Rosa canina, the thorny, wild rose, through the hedge. Space the roses every 10 feet to make a good display.

Rosa caninaAssuming the thieves manage to get into the garden then, as a second line of defence, plant inhospitable shrubs under the ground floor windows. It will make window cleaning difficult but with the right choice of plants your unwelcome visitor may well decide on easier pickings.



Again dwarf berberis and roses are excellent in this position. Poncirus trifoliata is commonly called the Japanese bitter orange. It is a citrus but the small green-yelow fruit are inedible. The white flower is attractive ahd highly fragrant. The palmate, dark green leaves are deciduous, its bright green stems are armed with the most deadly thick, two inch long spines.

Poncirus trifoliataWhere the windows are high, plant Rubus cockburniensis. It is similar to the bramble and in the same family. The stems are covered in an attractive, white, dust-like bloom and hooked thorns. The upright canes may grow to six feet with arched side shoots. It is not a plant one would wish to tangle with and if the thief breaks through a clump to get at a window he may need hospital treatment.



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