Green-fingered thief targeting plants in revamped West Hampstead alley

A community-minded samaritan who transformed a West Hampstead pathway from dog-poo lane to a sweet smelling haven of flowers is heartbroken because the plants are being pilfered.

Adele Maxwell-Miles, who runs a dance school, began the transformation of an alleyway between Menelik Road and Hocroft Walk 12 years ago, when she planted a rose bush in memory of her sister Yvonne.

A decade later she realised the lane was falling into disrepair and set about a make-over of the alley.

“It is a public pathway and it used to be horrible,” she said. “I have two lovely English setters, Bertie and Darcy, and I walk along it all the time. It was so awful that people used to call it dog-poo lane and everyone used to dump rubbish everywhere.”

Deciding enough was enough, Ms Maxwell-Miles, who lives on Menelik Road, cleaned up the path and started planting flowers, plants and bushes which she would pick up on the cheap from car-boot fairs.


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However, every Sunday for the last few weeks she has noticed plants disappearing – and last weekend the thief or thieves struck again, stealing two large shrubs and leaving a big bald patch in the urban garden.

In previous weeks just one or two small plants had been taken but now the culprits appear to be ramping up their efforts.

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She said: “It is so sad. Everybody loves the path now and everyone shows it so much more respect – picking up their dog’s poo and not dumping litter, and perhaps just one person is ruining it for the rest of us.

“We’ve even put notices up but nothing seems to work. Plants seem to get stolen every weekend.

“I’ve got a lovely Dogwood shrub that someone donated for the path but I am too scared to put it out there now in case it gets stolen,” she said.

Each weekend Ms Maxwell-Miles spends two hours honing the garden walk so that everyone can enjoy it – and she is now considering organising a plant watch with neighbours to discourage the theft of any more of her beloved blooms.

“The flowers, the butterflies and the bees are all flourishing on what was just a bumpy, dirty old path and whoever is doing this is selfishly ruining it,” she said.

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