Owner of the Wee Tree Plantation Tam O'Braan has thousands of plants stolen from him
The “tea leaves” have stolen thousands of plants from the remote hillside site at Amulree, Perthshire, which supplies top-notch tea to the Dorchester Hotel and Fortnum and Mason in London.
Tam O’Braan, owner of the Wee Tree Plantation has confronted the crooks and had to chase them off his land despite battling a heart condition.
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Experts from the Science and Advice unit of Scottish Agriculture (SASA) believe thousands of plants may have been stolen from the plantation and sold to growers south of the border.
Produce from the Dalreoch Farm site has become the leaf of choice for some of the world’s most exclusive tea drinkers along with upmarket retailers and hotels in the UK, France and America.
Among the company’s other clients is the Lowell Hotel in New York.
The remote hillside site at Amulree, Pertshire supplies top-notch tea to luxury hotels
Mr O’Braan said that the success of the plantation had forced him to take a break from its daily operation to concentrate on creating a micro tea factory.
It’s gone as far as me chasing people with spades off and being shouted at
Tam O’Braan, the Wee Tree Plantation owner
He explained: “I had to take time away from the business and was amazed people took advantage of this to steal our plants. It has shaken my faith. I’ve even been contacted by SASA about thousands of dodgy plants sold to English growers said to be from us.”
Mr O’Braan, who is originally from Northern Ireland, said he felt that fame for the company had attracted some “ne’er-do-wells”.
He said: “It’s gone as far as me chasing people with spades off and being shouted at, being told I don’t understand the Scottish tradition of plant hunting.”
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Among the company’s clients is the Dorchester Hotel and Fortnum and Mason in London Flowers & Plants in pictures Sun, January 23, 2011 1 of 2
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Tea garden manager Chris Henry said security at the plantation has been increased.
He said: “After advice from our local police, we’ve put up cameras typically used to film wildlife. They’re set to catch anyone approaching the plants, even at night.
“I’m here during the daytime, so we know any thieves are coming under cover of darkness.”
The raids follow the recent thefts of five extremely rare Serbian conifers which were priceless components of a Forest Enterprise Scotland conservation programme from nearby Kinnoull Woodland Park near Perth.
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