Barb Smith, a volunteer with the Woolwich Gardeners, noticed last week that a small pathway of flowers in the garden bed at Gibson Park in Elmira had been mysteriously dug up. Not just dug up, in fact, but carefully removed – no other plants were stepped on and no roots had been left. It appears the bandits might be gardeners themselves given such perfect plant removal from the bed.
Reminding Barb of a classic 1960s song, ‘Where have all the flowers gone,’ the incident and just what happened remain a mystery, as she has never seen anyone take flowers before in her 10 years of volunteering with the organization.
The Elmira and District Horticulture Society takes care of about 10 township flowerbeds and planter locations with the help of 15 volunteers.
“When I got back from the long weekend, there were four holes in the flowerbed where four of our big annual plants had been; not all of them are gone, just these four,” said Smith of her August 3 discovery.
The average price of the missing flowers, New Guinea impatiens, is between $3 to $5.
“We’ve never had any problems other than there might be some garbage thrown in there, or something got stepped on accidentally or a ball went in and broke it, but this was just bizarre. There were other plants around that they had to step over to get these – they didn’t damage them at all. So they were very neat and very careful, but still it’s wrong,” noted Smith.
She and her friend Dianne have both volunteered their time to make Elmira and the surrounding area blossom with colour. They have been taking care of the flower bed together at Gibson Park for more than a decade; this year they wanted to try something new, with some unique flowers.
The Woolwich Gardeners take care of the town plantings such as the welcome signs, downtown Elmira’s planters, parks in cemeteries and garden beds in community parks, among other areas.
“It is very strange and when you’re volunteering you’re doing this of your own time, out of the goodness of your own heart, and then somebody comes along and just spoils it for everybody. It’s very upsetting,” added Smith.
Planted at the end of May, the stolen flowers were blooming bright pink flowers, similar to the New Guinea impatiens still planted in the garden bed at Gibson Park.
“This is the first time we tried these, and they are amazing.”
At the end of May, Rockway Gardens in Kitchener reported $20,000 worth of damage from vandalism. Some of the stonework, trees and flowerbeds had been broken purposefully, many of which were dedicated as a memorial to a lost loved one.
The garden bed at Gibson Park is located in front of the parking lot, boasting tall pink flowers as well as now four holes where the stolen flowers used to be.
“It made me really sad to think somebody would think that was an OK thing to do, and it made me mad because it’s wrong no matter how you look at it.”
The Elmira and District Horticultural Society has been a member of Ontario Horticultural Association since 1900, making it one of Elmira’s longest running volunteer organizations. They are currently in need of more volunteers, anyone interested can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org .