After East and West Germany were reunited, the reunified German government in 1992 ordered aerial surveys of all state-owned land. The photographs were examined by forestry students, who immediately noticed a large swastika, made from selective planting of deciduous larch trees. The swastika was only visible from the air in autumn when the larch tree leaves turned brown, the rest of the forest being evergreen:
Although the East Germans knew of the planting, they had done nothing about it. There were few aircraft in the air in that area in those days.
An attempt was made in 1995 to remove the swastika by cutting out 43 of the 100 trees but they grew back. In 2000 the authorities removed another 25 to destroy the swastika shape.
It is believed that the planting took place near the height of Hitler's power, in the 1930s. It has been suggested that the trees were laid out in 1937 by locals to prove their loyalty to Hitler after a businessman in the area was denounced and sent to a concentration camp by the Nazi Party for listening to the BBC.
BBC News online, 4 December 2000
The secret spring attraction of a Yorkshire steel town was hastily dug up by council gardeners yesterday, after residents discovered why visitors were kerb-crawling past a bank of daffodils.
Cunningly planted into the bypass verge, the flowers spelt out the revenge of a Rotherham parks department employee who lost his job three years ago but had time to send a horticultural parting shot.
The message read: 'Bollocks' and 'Shag'. 'At least it did until the local residents went out and cut down "Bollocks",' said a council spokesman. 'Our blokes are out there now dealing with "Shag" and replanting the bulbs.'
He added: 'It's very cleverly done, hardly anyone sees it unless it's pointed out to them. We've traced it back, and this chap left us in 1995.'
Daffodil messages have caused controversy before in Yorkshire, notably when the M62's contractors, Balfour Beatty, marked their achievement by planting a huge yellow 'BB' incongruously on the Pennine summit. The weather has since destroyed all but a handful but in Rotherham, locals fear that the worst may be to come.
Alan McCue, aged 48, who lives near the 'Shag' said: 'I can see the funny side, but it doesn't give a very good impression of the town. Our main worry is that they planted hundreds of other bulbs - quite a lot still to flower. So we're wondering what's going to come up next.'
- The Guardian, 8 April 1999
(In other reports the planters were youths doing community service)
Byter Leo sent me an email with a public service announcement, which I will share: