I caught someone stealing flowers the other day.
Purely by accident, actually. I was opening the upstairs windows to get some cross ventilation going on and I noticed a figure furtively skulking in the yard (inasmuch as such a thing is possible in broad daylight), who glanced up when they heard the windows squeaking.
I noted that not only was the person in my yard, but they were holding a substantial chunk of now dead tea rose which had been disconnected from my living tea rose. And they had the gall to look offended, nay, angry that I had caught them in the act.
I happen to think flower stealing is a particularly low thing to do. The thing is, I appreciate flowers. I love that people enjoy the garden, and passerby often stop to admire the plants or bend and smell things from outside the fence. And I deeply prize wandering through town looking at other people’s gardens to get ideas and simply bask in the floral beauty.
I like sharing the garden with the world.
But I wish people wouldn’t steal from it. It seems terribly disrespectful of all the hard work that someone unknown to you has put in to march brazenly into their yard and start cutting flowers. Not only is it rude, it also deprives others of future enjoyment. And it’s bad enough to clip things through the fence, but to invade someone’s personal space in order to mutilate their garden? For shame!
“What are you doing,” I asked, a not entirely unreasonable question.
“Er…what are you doing,” the thief replied.
Seeing as how I live here, I wasn’t quite sure how to respond.
“Well…I mean, I see that you are picking our flowers,” I finally said.
“I didn’t think anyone would mind,” they replied.
“You didn’t think that anyone would mind that you have cut a large chunk of our rosebush off? Or you were hoping we wouldn’t notice?”
“Well, it was a very pretty rosebush.”
“Yes, it was,” I said. “Why couldn’t you leave it for others to enjoy, or ask politely if you could have a cutting?”
“Well, I didn’t want to bother anyone.”
“Yes, and of course stealing never bothers anyone.”
“You can have it back if you like.”
“What good is a branch of dead flowers going to do me? Why don’t you take it and have some more respect in the future,” I said. “After all, not only do the people who live here work hard in this garden, but everyone enjoys the flowers. And now everyone can’t, because they are gone. And if everyone who liked the flowers helped themselves, the garden would be denuded. I think it’s very disrespectful of you to walk into this yard and steal flowers without so much as a by your leave.”
“Oh,” the thief said, and fled.
Presumably before I could call the flower police.
It makes me sad that everyone here with a garden lives in fear of flower thieves, and many people fence off their gardens for that reason. Only the other day I was walking down the street and was struck by a beautiful rosebush, which I bent to smell. I noticed that there was someone working in the garden, eyeing me with deep suspicion.
“This is a beautiful rosebush,” I said. “And it smells wonderful. Is it antique?”
“Why yes, it is,” the older woman said. “Thank you.”
“I love your garden,” I added. “I walk past it a great deal and I think it’s lovely.”
“Would you like a cutting,” she offered.
“Oh, really, could I? That would be wonderful!”
And she came over and gently selected a lovely cutting, and gave me some tips for getting it to take.
That’s how gardens should be, respected and loved, and perhaps their owners would be more willing to offer cuttings or tours. Now I have a lovely cutting of an antique rose which hopefully I can get to take, so that I too can have a lovely rosebush in my yard, perhaps to offer cuttings from someday.
The thing is, most of us will offer cuttings or blooms if our gardens are complimented–we just don’t like having things taken without our will. At this point, I’m tempted to start setting booby traps for flower thieves–perhaps a particularly tempting dahlia close to the fence with a dye pack attached.