TREES get blamed for all sorts of problems, including potentially serious subsidence and more frivolous things like leaf litter or providing a perch for the blackbird disrupting those morning lie-ins. Talking to tree officers over the years, the most peculiar accusation I’ve heard is that they provide cover for flashers and other ‘ne’er-do-wells’. 

I thought I had heard it all until I read a news story about Plymouth City Council cutting down palm trees (cabbage palms, to be exact) on the city’s Hoe waterfront because people were allegedly having sexual intercourse underneath them. Council maintenance staff were being forced to continually clear up sex and drug paraphernalia, posing a health hazard and being costly to remove, said the local authority. 

Perverse perhaps, because the council said it wanted to replace the palms with other vegetation. Anyone who is familiar with palm trees, whether cabbage palms or coconuts, knows that as pseudo-trees, they provide hardly any worthwhile ground-based cover for orgies or any other impious activity. Indeed, almost any other choice of tree or shrub would be an improvement for cover and camouflage. 

It reminds me of a story I covered some 12 years ago about a lady councillor in Lancashire who was irate and quite rightly so. The source of her anger was shrubby woodland in her local authority which had apparently been taken over by ‘doggers’. Perhaps the best advice for Plymouth City

Forestry Journal: Palm trees provide precious little cover for covert activityPalm trees provide precious little cover for covert activity (Image: Supplied)

Council is a suggestion I made back then. Remove the existing vegetation and replace with a selection of native thorny shrubs and trees – blackthorn, hawthorn and dog rose – which should sharpen the senses for anyone wishing to indulge in ‘nookie al-fresco’.