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Bethesda landscaping and gardening store Richard Paul Smith and Son has a kind of reverence for nature that spills over from its shops and office blocks to its sprawling industrial estate. The store on Hanwood Road in Limerick city’s Cherrywood Business Park is full of plants and seedlings sprouting in soil or potting trays.
A slow trickle of customers wander around the nursery area to take advantage of a tempting display of a summer bedding display full of berries and honeysuckle. A man who is definitely not a gardener and is dressed for a work-out inspects the extensive range of compost products in another section.
Then a customer whose instinctive outdoor gardener’s eye seems to be firmly fixed on the display of euphorbiaes (Christmas cactus) stops and asks the man at the counter where he has located the Kia Nia Perennial Garden. The man points him across the road where rows and rows of little pots are laid out on a balcony overlooking the narrow Hanwood road.
This could be a unique niche garden to attract people from nearby offices to a quaint and quiet corner of the city. At Richard Paul Smith and Son, however, they sell hundreds of them, each priced at €14.95 each.
A gardener’s paradise?
It would be easy to assume that all gardens in Ireland are small personal gardens for the gardener.
But a comparison with Limerick shows that there are plenty of public, commercial and community gardens in Ireland. In fact the Gardaí reveal that they receive an average of 13 queries about community gardens each day, and that enquiries to other garda stations over the past six months have seen an increase.
In a garda statement, Insp Emma Woods, spokesperson for garda stations in Limerick and Clare, said gardaí did not have a particular system for monitoring queries about community gardens. However, the gardaí in Limerick have, over the past six months, received an average of about 12 queries about community gardens, she added.
“[These] relate to queries about dead plants, vegetation in the wrong place, pot plants growing into public areas, problems with motor vehicles and animals in gardens and criminal activity, such as theft,” she said.
Sgt Karen Kennelly, spokesperson for garda stations in Clare, said gardaí in Clare received an average of about 10 queries about community gardens in the past six months.
However, according to a garda spokesperson, the gardaí do not have a uniformed garda presence in those gardens, and if they did they would be independent gardaí.
Woods added that gardaí were aware of one “large garden” in Limerick where people had removed parts of the garden and “thrown in a wheelie bin”.
“The public gardaí will act on an allegation of any illegal activities that are in the public domain,” she said.
In another instance gardaí checked out a complaint about a community garden in Limerick.
“There were allegations about animals being let out of the gardens, dead vegetation, and the gardens were locked up,” Woods said.
Limerick: recycling problems
But these queries raise other issues in Limerick. It was revealed last week that the waste department has identified more than 5,500 tonnes of waste dumped in gardens in the city since November 2014.
The problem was revealed in an inspection by Limerick City and County Council’s environmental services division, in a report on the council’s activities in the spring of 2015.
The report, released last month, said that councils had received complaints about material being dumped on garden properties, including lawn mowers, washing machines and mattresses.
The council also said it had received complaints about fencing for veg plots being torn down, and recycling collections being dumped on gardens.
“As a consequence, the department has been engaged in dealing with a number of premises on foot of the request by members of the public,” the report said. “Each complaint is attended and records and notes kept.”
Sgt Kennelly said gardaí responded to between 1,000 and 1,500 incidents where people complained about vehicles blocking paths and gardens and about vehicle damage, and did not have an issue with vehicles being parked on gardens.
Kennelly said gardaí also attended houses where problems were being caused by squatters. “People’s access to gardens is on their terms and not on the terms of any person. The owners of those gardens are sometimes agreeable to people using them, and sometimes they are not.”
But councillors and gardaí revealed that gardening, whether it be privately or publicly, was seen as an issue by people in Limerick who are challenging the social housing system.
CLLR Declan Maher, zástupce Fine Gael Limericka, uvedl, že město má v bydlení a sociálním bydlení asi 6 500 obyvatel. Řekl, že jednou z nejčastějších stížností, které obyvatelé měli, bylo to, že zahrady byly špatně udržovány.
"A městská rada má velmi velký problém." Jsou nedostatečně podrobeni, “řekl.
"Viděl jsem, jak lidé chodí do domů a lidé tam stojí venku [ve svých zahradách]."
Cllr Gaye Rogers, který zastupuje obyvatele bydlení v Limericku městské radě, uvedl, že Gardaí přichází na některé majetky.
"Garda přišla do domu, aby odstranila nábytek z domu sociálního bydlení v Killavullenu a to se děje."
Řekla, že obyvatelům bylo řečeno, že Gardaí již nedovolí odstranit nábytek.
"Tento nábytek patřil do domácnosti rady a mohou s ním dělat, co chtějí," řekla. "Ale to není správné." Jedná se o dům v oblasti sociálního bydlení a tento nábytek si někdo koupil jménem lidí. Mělo by být odstraněno, nebylo řečeno, že nikdo nemůže