Flower jackers part II: speaking of cabbage

You could have been somebody...

It’s time to talk a little more about my flower jacking obsession, especially after the mysterious incident with my Celosia yesterday. (I told my genius floral designer best friend it looked like the two survivors had been tipped and she said, “Really? Like cow tipping?” Could teenagers possibly be this bored? Where we’re from… it’s possible.)

I mentioned previously I’ve been a victim of this heinous crime. (Flower jacking, not cow tipping!) Mean people randomly attacking my yard started last summer, truly the first time in my life I’d ever made any attempt at planting anything. I had gone out, all hopeful, and bought all kinds of plants for my first summer in our very own house – my first yard in eight years . (And then I planted them in all sorts of inappropriate places, where many would soon succumb to death, but that’s not the point right now.)

One of my first purchases was a bunch of little wax leaf begonias (with the wee red and pink flowers), which I planted wrongly around my front walkway. Several were promptly stolen, lifted completely out of the soil, leaving sad little empty wedge-shaped holes. I was floored. They weren’t expensive. My yard was obviously a crappy, weedy affair; it was obviously a first and hopeful little attempt at making something. Who would be so cruel and brash, coming so close to my front door? That was the first jack. It perplexed me and pissed me off because it was so petty. (I could understand stealing something nice.) I mean, they were cheap, common little plants. Why?

My neighbor had an interesting response after tolerating my self-indulgent whine. “You should call the police,” she said decisively. I was incredulous. I’m a former newspaper reporter; I’ve covered the cop beat, I’ve covered murders. You don’t call police over plant theft.  I used to read the police blotter every morning in small-town Wenatchee, Wash., and mock the “crimes” residents reported.

“Huh?” I asked, laughing. “No way.” But she had a rationale. Our neighborhood had suffered a rash of thefts recently – some petty (like plants and little tchotchkes left outside), some not (like our neighbors losing their TV through a front window). My neighbor was urging police to step up patrols on our street and any call – any report – would help our stats and possibly move us up the priority list. We should report everything, she argued. I mulled it. It made sense, but a few days had passed. Eh. Plus, I still felt silly. Complain to anyone who would listen? Hell, yes. Call police? Uhhmmm.

But then, the jerks struck again, this time tearing out a sweet little purple cabbage I carefully planted as a sort of capstone to my favorite triangular bed (yep, the one recently smoked by the car fire). I had visions of it flourishing into a beautiful, leafy purple bunch of beauty. (See above.) Now, I had just another sad little hole in the dirt.

So I did it. I called Fitchburg police. I made sure to find the non-emergency number.  But still, the dispatcher’s first question was, “Is this an emergency?”

Somewhere in this building, a poor detective took my call

“Uh, no, definitely not,” I emphasized. “I just want to make a minor theft report.”

“Hold please.”

She transferred me to a detective. I was already suppressing giggles. “I’d like to report a theft from my yard last night,” I told the very polite officer who had the misfortune to take my call.

“What was stolen?” he asked, all sincere.

“A plant,” I answered.


“Can you describe the plant, ma’am? What was it?”

“Yes,” I admitted. “It was a small, purple cabbage plant.” I started to laugh. He sounded amused. I was relieved.

“Ma’am, do you know the value?”

“Yes, it was worth about a quarter.” Now we were both laughing.

“Ma’am, would you like us to send someone out to take a report in person?”

“God, no,” I answered. “I just want this on the books.” And then I explained my neighbor’s advice, and our desire for more patrols. But no, please do not waste any more time on my silly cabbage, I begged.

He assured me he would log the cabbage theft and thanked me for my call.

I felt really goofy, but hey… some cretin was still out there, preying on poor, hopeful, striving gardeners like me. It just wasn’t right.

After that, the thefts stopped. I am sure it was due to the increased patrols that followed a few more serious thefts in our ‘hood. (I am joking; I rarely see cop cars on our street.) I have to say, I did not tempt the flower jackers. I purposely did not put my planters out front, on the advice of my cynical husband, because I was pretty sure the pretty green ceramic pots would be too “shiny objects” for some fool. We started leaving the porch light on all night. And eventually, I found my soil and sunlight miscalculations to be bigger enemies than the flower jackers.

We’ll see what this season brings. I have a feeling it ain’t over.

More on this ridiculous obsession to come… tales of foolishness, mayhem and landscapers who jack their own clients!


About plantkiller

Paysha Rhone is a wife, mother, former-journalist-turned-PR-maven and bad mamajama killing plants in the Victorian splendor of Fitchburg, Massachusetts.
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4 Responses to Flower jackers part II: speaking of cabbage

  1. I have heard of thefts of expensive, rare plants but cheap annuals? Are you sure that deer aren’t to blame? Small, new plants can be pulled up roots and all by a hungry deer.

    I did have one plant that was pulled out of the ground – a small mock orange. I found it in the neighbors yard. I had planted it less than a week before so I suspect a hungry deer. Amazingly I replanted it and it survived!

    • plantkiller says:

      Hmmm… that’s a thought. I’ve never seen a deer in my ‘hood but it’s not THAT urban. Could be. We do have plenty of skunks and squirrels. Though I am still weirded out that something/someone pulled those Celosia out and then did not “eat” them… just vandalism maybe? It seems crazy, but our neighbors’ pumpkin was stolen, and I think some small plant they had outside too. People are kind of interesting ’round these parts.

  2. LaNeia says:

    We do have deer actually. 3 frequent the yard across the street, where the house set back off the driveway is. I have had a few deer in our side yard. Still, I am not imagining this was a deer. There’s been too frequent of this kind of petty silly theft. Just silly stuff indeed. Funny, but not funny too.

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