Cactus vandalism sucks: a slideshow
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Not too long ago, I was strolling leisurely through the Desert Garden at Balboa Park when I suddenly had to spring into journalistic action. Someone was vandalizing the cacti. One gray botanic skeleton had been graffiti’ed to death
Now, I’m all for street art and graffiti, but when carving your girlfriend’s name actually ends the life of something beautiful, rendering both the object itself and the graffiti message moot, well, I at least have to inquire and make a slideshow. (Click here for the full effect)
Crystal Ritchie, the Balboa Park horticulturalist, acknowledges that it’s a problem.
“People have been vandalizing the cactus collection for years,” Ritchie says. “It’s really hard [to prevent] because that garden is out of the way and not in a direct corridor, so there’s a tendency for people to hang out in the garden and cause trouble for us.”
That trouble takes the form of rot and infection, which can spread through the cacti’s wounds. In that sense, cacti are more like humans than trees.
“On a tree, bark is the protective layer, so if the bark is damaged it’s not going to usually damage the whole tree unless it goes underneath the bark,” Ritchie says. “But with a cactus, if you’re cutting right into it. You’re damaging it right away.”
All park staff can do is cover the wounds with green paint or fill them in with Play Doh or putty. That doesn’t help the wound much—it just hides the graffiti so other would-be vandals don’t get the idea that it’s ok.
“The scabs will eventually heal over, but it can take many, many years,” she says.