What Kind Of Gardener Steals Plants?

I’m so mad I could spit. I could also sit down and cry. Someone stole plants that were very important to us.

Since spring we knew that our home of 30 years would be moved to a new location to make way for diking necessary to protect Fargo from flooding. In preparation for transitioning to a new spot, in spring we dug and potted strawberries, raspberries, asparagus, rhubarb, horseradish, iris, daylilies, fleeceflowers, hosta, other perennials and countless shrubs and trees that were still young enough to be dug and potted.

All summer long we watered, fertilized and nurtured these hundreds of potted plants at our “old” location, as we waited for the house to be moved to the “new” location and the new lot backfilled, graded, etc. so these pots could be planted in our yard and garden. The City of Fargo even hooked up a temporary water meter at the old location after the house was gone, so we could continue to water and care for the plants until they could be moved. Most needed to be watered daily. The yard and garden aren’t ready at the new lot. Our potted plants grew beautifully this summer – just like potted stock from a garden center, and we were so proud.

Today, Sunday Sept. 4 when we went to our old location, (which we won’t vacate until late October) to do our daily watering of pots, my heart sank. To make the daily watering task easier, in spring we had set up several hundred feet of watering hoses. Today all hoses were gone.

Besides the hoses, plants were taken, including a large potted apple tree, all our potted strawberries, and others. Someone hauled away the plants and hoses Sunday before about 2 p.m., which is the time I went to water. In fact, I believe the perpetrator was returning for more, but saw our vehicle and left. The property is clearly marked with “No Trespassing” signs and cordoned with yellow caution tape, so I don’t believe there was a misunderstanding that the plants were “up for grabs.”

Mary and our sons quickly helped me transport ten van-loads of the remaining plants away from our old home place. We were concerned that if we left, the thieves would probably return and steal the remainder.

Potting up and transporting plants that we’ve grown for the past 30 years was important to us. Being able to replant familiar old plants was one way to help us adjust to the move. It would soften, just a little, what has been a long, sometimes difficult process. We were depending on these plants for our new location, and it’s frustrating that now some were stolen.

What kind of gardener could enjoy watching an apple tree grow that they stole from another gardener? What type of gardener will enjoy picking strawberries from our plants? I wonder if it will occur to them how frustrating it is for us, now that we’ll have to start over and wait even longer for strawberries. They were nice plants that had grown all summer so we could plant them and enjoy a good crop at our new garden next year. Will the thieves enjoy their new perennial flowers? I suppose I should be happy we discovered the problem before we were totally cleaned out. Somehow that doesn’t help my mood.

What type of people steal plants? It’s hard for me to understand that someone who wants to grow plants would bring this kind of sadness to another gardener.




22 Responses

  1. Mary

    Disgusting. I have day lilies, hostas and other perennials I would split and share with you. I love your columns and read every week. I’d love to share with you like you share your wisdom with me and others. Comment here if you’re interested and I will email you!

    1. Don Kinzler

      Thanks for your generous offer. As I mentioned to Steve, even just one small item that might be overage to you, or that we could help divide, would be valued by Mary and I. The planting would be a reminder of the kindness of people who helped re-populate our yard. Again – even just a small division of anything is very kind of you. My email is forumgrowingtogether@hotmail.com

  2. Steve Sebesta

    Don, I was really disappointed to see the story on the news last night. You are more than welcome to come “shopping” at my house if you’d like. Many of the plants I have came from others who were willing to share with me over the years, so I’d be happy to share. Just let me know.

    1. Don Kinzler

      Thanks very much. I’ll be in contact. Even one item would be really appreciated. A plant or two offered in this way will have even greater value to us, as we grow the plant and remember the kindness with which it was given. As the plant grows it will remind us that most people are generous and good-hearted.

  3. John Smith

    We live nearby a community garden and have had to show off thieves the last couple years.. I also will not go into profiling but I will say this is near Minneapolis.
    Last week somebody stole all but one of our watermelons we worked so hard on all summer. We found out that another gal on the opposite side of the garden had also had hers stolen
    (leaving the two smaller ones of course). So we have put up some signs around the garden thanking the aholes that did this and for others to watch out for suspicious characters. You can kinda tell who belongs as most people aren’t just walking around looking at stuff. They are weeding, watering, etc…

    1. Don Kinzler

      I often wonder what the thieves would say if the owner happened to catch them in the act: Something like “Oh, I thought these were mine.”?

  4. Kay earls

    So sorry for your loss. I am so disgusted that someone would do that. I truly hope that they can be caught and prosecuted. There is no excuse for this. I agree that the thief is no gardener. I know we love all our plants and would be devastated if they were sto

  5. Stealing plants has happened in Grand Forks this summer too. One guy had all but one veggie plant stolen the night after her planted thrm. It was discussed a lot on our cities next f or group.

    1. Don Kinzler

      I hate to see thieves get the upperhand by discouraging people. At least rabbit damage is understandable. Theft isn’t so easily understood.

  6. I agree that the thief was no gardener. Those of us who love to garden appreciate the time, effort, love & care that went into years of growing those potted trees and plants. I don’t believe that a landscaper would do that either. Look within a mile or two of your old house and see if you can spot them planted in a yard. Someone spotted them while driving past your house, maybe several times before deciding to go and get them.
    Our neighborhood had some beautiful wildflowers and among them were some Showy Lady Slippers. They are the state flower of Minnesota and it has been illegal to pick them or dig them up since 1925. Someone dug up that patch of Showy Lady Slippers and deprived us & all the people in our neighborhood of a joyful annual sight. Who can explain why a thief does this? I’ll never understand it.

  7. Kate

    A gardener would never do this. Anyone with a personal connection to the soil would understand these plants were being nurtured and preserved for the new site. This was probably the work of a landscaper who will try to sell the plants to a client. I hope someone reports them!

  8. james traun

    Ouch. I could give you a valid “profiled” answer but I better not. I have had numerous solar angels stolen off my mother’s resting place. It hurts . Others share different values. Sorry Don.

    1. Don Kinzler

      Yes, We’ve had geraniums stolen from my grandparents grave for nearly 30 years. Now we just put them out for a few hours and try to retrieve them before they’re stolen.

  9. Lindsay F

    That someone is no gardener at all – they’re a thief! My heart aches for you and your family, Don, to see someone snatch up those potted memories.

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