Last week, about 30,000 hedge saplings were planted along the 6.2km divider of the Thimphu–Babesa expressway. The ornamental plants will bloom soon, or next spring, making the drive to the city an aesthetically pleasant experience.

But that is if the plants stay where they are rooted. Soon after the enormous task, where some 520 staff of the agriculture ministry were engaged, there were remarks of appreciation and reminders.

The plants now need nurture and care so that they become full bloomed hedges. And from experience, it is safe to say that this will be a daunting task. Stealing flowers and plants is common in the capital where the educated and the supposedly civilised reside. Stealing plants is a rampant practise, especially in public places. Parks and traffic roundabouts are prime targets in this unusual crime wave.

This is not the first time plants and flowers are being planted. If not disturbed or stolen, Thimphu would be a more beautiful place today. The only consolation is that the stolen ones will be planted and nurtured somewhere. If it is not flower thieves, we have the stray animals. There is a standing rule that cattle cannot be raised in the thromde but we have more cattle on the expressway than speed bumps. Hopefully the hedge saplings are naturally cattle repellent.

It would also be unfair to leave the responsibility to the thromde alone. Each one of us can contribute by not trampling or driving over the plants. Ownership of public property is what is needed at the moment. How do we inculcate this ownership is another challenge.

The Prime Minister had urged the residents to not trample the plants. The agriculture minister had, through the participants at the mass plantation, requested the cooperation of the people to support the thromde and the ministry by not uprooting the plants. Although only a few days old, the saplings already look good on the divider. A shared responsibility could ensure the success of the latest of numerous initiatives on the expressway.

Given the natural settings, Thimphu is already a beautiful city. But that is nature’s doing. As responsible residents, what have we done? The biggest contribution is by not spoiling what is being done.

We are all nature lovers, but there are others who contribute to it. Planting flowers and tree saplings even in the backyard will contribute to the overall greening and beautification of the city.

As a starter, plants and flowers could be made more available and affordable. This will also stop stealing from public places. The nurseries established by the forestry sector and plants distributed by the thromde could be expanded since every new plant would be more than welcome in our new environment. The procedure involved in getting saplings is discouraging people and driving them to the public gardens.