A night of vandalism on Saturday at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens saw the Children's Playground targeted with blue paint and several playground items broken.
A red Simon Pearson statue was painted pale blue, several slides and pieces of playground furniture were daubed with the same paint and the surface matting ripped off from the play area.
A few plants, including a Bird of Paradise, were also uprooted and taken away, leaving gaping holes in the garden beds.
Botanic Gardens staff have cordoned off the targeted area and are working to repair the damage.
Jeremy Hawker, Botanical Services Operations Team Manager, says he is unsure about the motive of the vandalism .
The plants were only significant for the Garden as a lot of time and effort had gone into caring for them, he says.
He cannot say whether Saturday night's vandalism and theft was targeted or just random.
"We have had theft before - just last week-end someone broke into the conservatory, smashing the glass to get at some plants," Mr Hawker says.
As for the vandalism, Mr Hawker can only hope it was a one-off spree from a group of youngster.
The fact that the vandal came prepared with paint and took time out to paint a large statue is of concern .
Gardens staff will have the damage repaired by the end of the week.