Devastating destruction of St Albans nursery’s dahlia field

Aylett Nursery dahlia beds after the vandalism

Aylett Nursery dahlia beds after the vandalism - Credit: Archant

Mindless vandals have destroyed specimen plants growing in nursery beds with only six weeks until the start of its annual dahlia festival.

The shock discovery was made on Sunday morning when staff at Aylett Nurseries on the North Orbital Road in St Albans found that thieves had stolen a Land Rover from the back of the premises and had driven it through the security fencing and across the dahlia beds.

The Aylett dahlia field, which features row after row of the blooms, is one of the centrepieces of the Dahlia Festival which is held each year in September.

But the vandalism is sure to have an impact because even though staff have been busy tidying up the damage and replanting, the new plants will not flower in time.

Director Adam Wigglesworth said this week: “Machines you can sort out and fences you can mend but plants have to have time to grow.”

The damage was exacerbated because the dahlias are grown through wire netting and as the vehicle was driven through the fields, it became entangled in the wheels pulling up even more plants up and causing widespread destruction

Co-founder of the nursery, Hazel Aylett, said that it was celebrating its 60th birthday next year and nothing like this had ever happened before..

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She went on: “I am absolutely devastated.

“Some varieties we won’t be able to leave in at all. It is heartbreaking.”

Hazel described the action as ‘mindless vandalism’ and said the dahlia bed now looked “horrible because they have gone backwards and forwards over them.”

The Land Rover was subsequently found in the nearby Whitecroft Estate after being tracked across the field adjoining the dahlia beds.

Hazel added: “Apart from the damage, they could have killed themselves. They jumped a ditch, annihilated trees and went on the bridlepath into Herons Way.”

A police spokesperson said house-to-house investigations were ongoing and police were trying to track the route of the Land Rover which was found in New House Park with corn on its headlights.

She said that it could be that a farmer had suffered damage to a cornfield that night as well.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Pc Sean Lannon on 01727 796089.