There are ways and means to prevent people stealing plants, this is a step by step guide to one of them, using chicken wire.
Tools you will need
- Wire cutters
- Leather gardening gloves
- Sledge hammer
- Claw hammer
- 1.5m x 1.5m chicken wire
- 300mm length of 1.5mm wire
- Three 2' wooden stakes
- A handful of wee hooky staples for the wire
And gently curl round the base of the plant, taking care not to scratch the stem with any sharp edges.
2. Whilst wearing the gloves use the 300mm wire to stitch the slit in the chicken wire square back together, starting from the stem side, don't worry if the stitches don't go all the way to the edge of the square, this is not important.
3.Fold back the edges of the chicken wire by about 6" and dig a shallow trench round the edge of the square, it should only be around 6" deep, and will be filled in shortly.
4. Put the three stakes under the chicken wire as shown in the photo, so that there is one on either side of the stitched edge. If it is a rhododendron, the rootball will be about the size of a football, so try to put in the stakes so the do not interface with the roots.
Remove the gloves and use the sledgehammer to bang in the stakes so that only two inches or so protrude from the soil.
5. Use the claw hammer to put staples in to hold the chicken wire against the stakes, you may need to use more than staple.
6. Fold the edges of the chicken wire into the trench and then bury them with the leftover soil.
If you're in the mood for mulching, cover the whole shebang with about two inches to hide the chicken wire.
There is some debate about how much of a security measure this is. Will it stop people from stealing plants, will it just cause people to damage the plants when they give up. Should you leave some of the chicken wire and stakes visible so any villains can see there are security measures in place and it'll put them off. Will any plant thieves actually have wire cutters, rendering the security measure pointless? Since they didn't have spades to start with, any other tools are unlikely.