Something odd happened last week.
As I stepped outside onto the front porch, I spotted a middle-aged woman photographing my forsythia bush. I didn’t think that out of the ordinary as the forsythia is definitely worthy of catching a photographer’s eye. What was unusual was the woman happened to be clutching an armful of forsythia branches. My forsythia’s branches!
I was speechless. When the woman noticed me, there was no apologetic tone in her voice. She simply asked me how to care for the forsythia. Like this was a perfectly normal thing for a person helping themselves to branches to ask the owner of the shrub. I was puzzled over what approach to use to ask if she could please refrain from pruning my forsythia shrub any further.
What she didn’t know was that I had only taken one tiny branch myself. The forsythia is finicky. It hadn’t bloomed for years for some unknown reason. It was a delight to see it blooming three years in a row now. If you prune it too much or at the wrong time of year, it acts like an orchid. Very temperamental!
When I told Mom about the unwanted guest in my garden, she asked if I yelled, “This is private property! No trespassing!” Uh, no, I did not. My garden is close to the curb. It’s the city’s property that I’ve beautified.
I told Mom that people are going to do whatever they want anyways. I can’t stop them. And maybe that woman just couldn’t stop herself. I’m reminded of the comic strip, Mother Goose & Grimm, where the kleptomaniac dog seeks help from a doctor because he can’t stop stealing things from his mother. The doctor prescribes pills for two weeks. Then, the doctor says, “But if the pills don’t work… get me that flat screen TV she has in her living room.”
Apparently, other people help themselves to plants, too. My friend, working at a garden centre, was ringing up a sale for an older woman when she noticed an emerald cedar peeking out from her large purse. She told the woman, “Ma’am, I can ring that up for you.” The senior citizen shouted that it was already paid for and ran off. When cornered by security, the woman was found to have strawberry plants hidden in her clothing, also.
Although a funny work tale, it made me sad. I asked my hubby, “Is that going to be me in my old age? Resorting to shoplifting because of a plant addiction?”
Back to my garden…one spring, a young child picked all my tulips. Every last one of them. I couldn’t be upset. He was merely a wee boy, and I hoped the tulips were for his mother. Another time, I saw an ancient woman picking flowers from my garden. She probably thought it was her own garden. That didn’t upset me, either.
But years ago in the fall, all my homegrown pumpkins got smashed by punks. That upset me! Since then, I’ve learned to bring them in for the night. Last year’s homegrown pumpkin was too heavy to cart inside nightly.
I hoped it would be too big for anyone to steal either. Every morning when I went to fetch the newspaper, I wondered if the pumpkin would still be on the porch. It was, thank goodness!
Mom asked if I could recall the time of day that I saw the woman bearing my forsythia branches. Yup, exactly 12:30. Mom suggested I keep an eye out for her around lunchtime because she might make herself a bouquet with my tulips.
Mom knows best, after all. I will continue to look for the best in people but not let my garden be stripped clean of flowers.
If I see the woman again in my garden, I’ve decided I will approach her the same way I do the young neighbourhood children. I ask them to tell me their favourite flower and pick one for them. And instruct them to put it in water right away so it lasts. That’s one reason why I plant many, many flowers!
I garden for my love of flowers and to beautify my little corner of the world. Not a day passes when I work in my curbside gardens without someone complimenting the flowers. Yesterday, a woman stopped her SUV to tell me she loved my garden, especially the spring flowers. I confided, “I planted extra bulbs for this spring. One hundred sixty more flowers! ” Her reply? “That’s just what we all need right now.”
I sense a kindred spirit in Claude Monet, the French Impressionist painter, known for his extensive gardens. He worded it best, “I must have flowers, always and always!”
(Image of Monet’s garden courtesy of Sinason from Pixabay)