Darcy Rhodes (left) says his grandfather’s bonsai trees are his ‘babies.’ (Courtesy of Tamara Bond)

Darcy Rhodes (left) says his grandfather’s bonsai trees are his ‘babies.’ (Courtesy of Tamara Bond)

Fifty years of carefully nurtured bonsai looted from Saanich grandfather’s garden

Grandson says trees are invaluable to family

An 85-year-old Saanich grandfather is mourning the loss of several cherished bonsai trees that he spent decades growing and caring for.

“He always says, ‘they’re like my babies,’” explains grandson Darcy Rhodes. “He obviously becomes attached to them.”

Saanich Police says officers are investigating the theft of several bonsai trees, believed to have been taken between Feb. 23 and 26. The stolen trees include evergreen, larch and viburnum trees planted in oval or rectangular pots at the time of the theft. The trees range in size from a foot to 18 inches tall.

Rhodes spoke on his grandpa’s behalf because his grandpa is fearful that the use of his name could make him a target for further theft.

He says the youngest bonsais in his grandpa’s collection – which includes hundreds of trees – are about a decade old, but he’s been growing some of the tiny trees for more than 50 years.

READ ALSO: TIMELAPSE: Making of a bonsai tree

“He’s got cedar trees and fir trees and pines and maples – you name it, he’s got a bonsai version of it,” Rhodes says. “He finds these little immature trees out in the wild, and then puts them in a pot and grows them and, you know, manipulates them to become a shape that he wants and prunes them.”

The bonsais require meticulous care over the course of years, Rhodes says. He estimates the trees to be worth roughly $400 to $500 each. But it’s not the dollar value that makes them important to his grandpa, who is a member of the Vancouver Island Bonsai Society.

“I’ll ask him, ‘Where did you find that one?’ and (he’ll say) ‘Oh up in McKay Creek in Cowichan, it was a snowy day and I saw the tip of it sticking out… each one has its story. He’s got all the memories that go along with it.”

But when snow arrived in February, Rhodes’ grandpa decided not to lock his gate to avoid slipping and falling. He had to move several plants around in order to shelter them from the snow, so it wasn’t until a few days later that he noticed some of them were missing.

The sentimental value is 10 times what the financial value is, Rhodes says. “It’s pretty sad. Even with that many trees, he can still recognize that he’s missing those ones.

“My grandpa is probably one of the most passionate people on Vancouver Island when it comes to bonsais,” Rhodes says. “He definitely wants to get the word out there just because it’s a pretty niche market.”

The family hopes the trees will be turned in. Anyone with information is asked to call Saanich police and reference file #21-4442.

READ ALSO: Ancient art takes root at Saanich garden


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: nina.grossman@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Saanichtheft

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. Centre for Disease Control maps showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 4-10. (BCCDC image)
Parksville-Qualicum passes Nanaimo in new COVID-19 cases

Greater Victoria had more new cases than any other Island area: B.C. Centre for Disease Control

‘For Sale’ signs quickly turned to ‘Sold’ signs as record-high demand for housing meets record-low inventory. (Cole Schisler photo)
Multiple offers and unconditional sales rampant in Ladysmith housing market

Vancouver Island Real Estate Board Zone 3 director Susan Perrey says the market is ‘crazy all around’

From left to right: Vicki Barta, Bruce Ormond, Greg Heide, Gord McInnis, and Charles Harman rehearse via zoom for the upcoming radio play, “Visitor from Planet Zoltan”. (Submitted photo)
Radio plays prove successful for Ladysmith Little Theatre, four more in production

Ladysmith Little Theatre pivoted to producing radio plays during the pandemic

Two men were seen removing red dresses alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay. (Submitted photo)
Two men filmed removing red dresses from trees in Oyster Bay

Activists hung the dresses to raise awareness for Vancouver Island Murdered/Missing Women & Girls

Ladysmith’s Taylor Walters received the Terry Fox Humanitarian Award and is hard at work pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Human-Computer Interaction at Quest University. (Submitted photo)
Ladysmith teen receives Terry Fox Humanitarian Award for advocating equal access to STEM opportunities

‘Different people think differently and that’s so important for innovation,’ Taylor Walters says

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

An armed officer walks outside Cerwydden Care on Cowichan Lake Road near Skinner Road Wednesday, April 14 around 5:30 p.m. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Police standoff at Duncan apartment ends peacefully

Officers surround building as homeowner held in apartment for nearly four hours by adult son

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch # 91, is disappointed the Legion does not qualify for COVID financial assistance from the provincial government. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C.’s pandemic aid package passing Legion branches by

Federal non-profit status stymies provincial assistance eligibility

Latest modelling by public health shows cases generated by COVID-19 infections into places where it can spread quickly. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Industrial sites, pubs, restaurants driving COVID-19 spread in B.C.

Infection risk higher in offices, retail, warehouses, farms

Hwy. 4 was shut down in both directions for 10 hours on March 23 as a rock bluff was blasted as part of Kennedy Hill’s ongoing construction. Commuters can expect five more 10 hour closures on five consecutive Wednesdays beginning April 28. (Photo courtesy of Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Five 10-hour Pacific Rim highway closures planned in the next 6 weeks

Closures needed for rock blasting as part of the Kennedy Hill Safety Improvement project.

Most Read