12.19.2005

Not your average Urban Garden Update

Mean...selfish...uncaring...cruel...heartless...desperate... These are not words typically used to describe a gardener. Yet I can't think of any other way to categorize the person who stole my lemon tree and my prized collection of succulents. I know in my heart it was the same person, even though the theft occurred in two stages.

The succulents were the first to be stolen. All I thought was, "My, how brazen, to steal a lovely pot of plants from someone's front porch." I was upset, yes, and saddened to lose my Desert Delight, which I'd spent well over a year assembling. But I laughed it off and figured it could easily have been a silly misunderstanding. The pots had been casually placed on our porch during our many trips in and out of the house while we were moving. Someone could maybe, just maybe have thought they were being given away, I blithely imagined.

I was being way, way too generous of heart (must be the gardener in me). Desert Delight was flagrantly stolen in broad daylight by a greedy, vicious [expletive deleted]. This was no innocent misunderstanding among grabby green thumbs. This was a theft, pure and simple. I know this, because today when I got home from work, our front gate was open and my lemon tree was gone.

You all know how unusually important this lemon tree was to me. It had helped me finally discover the gardener in me, the gardener I'd always wanted to be, in the tradition of Honeygram with her marigolds, Tutu's lantana and lavender bush, the immaculate houseplants of my father.... You probably hadn't seen it lately, but it had two lemons that were getting bigger by the week. Even though it was losing its leaves in the cold, I had begun to suspect that the lemons would make it to spring.

Now it's gone. I never thought I'd shed a tear for a plant, but that happened this evening. I know it's just a plant, but as so often happens in this material life, it symbolized all sorts of other things: not just my heritage as a gardener, but my visions for our new house and the potential for our new neighborhood, no concrete jungle of transient junkies and miserable criminals, but a lush and beloved ecosystem kept thriving by caring and optimistic homeowners eager to put down roots, literal and figurative, here.

I can only hope that wherever my plants are, they are being well cared for. I'm having a hard time believing that's true, though. Gardeners have to be attentive and giving. They must show love without words. They can't expect instant gratification or easy rewards. I think I understand why this vermicious knid has to steal plants from other people. Anybody who'd steal a plant can't be a very good gardener.

Not that I'm giving up, mind you. Our neighbors have their pots chained to their railing, and I'll probably resort to something similar even though it's a tad severe (and possibly not even effective; the neighbors say the person who lived in our house before had plants stolen, too--dug right out of their massive concrete pots). But I won't give up. I plan to adorn my plants with biographies, little stories that show just what they mean to me. I'll translate the stories into Spanish and Chinese, hell maybe even Russian and Tagalog. I know the plant thieves won't care about these things, but at least I'll know they can't delude themselves into thinking they're remotely righteous.

All sorts of military analogies and war metaphors come to mind, but I don't want to think of this as a battle. I'm just an urban gardener doing her thing, trying to get her plants as much light as possible, and the back porch has northern exposure. Lately I've been describing my life as an adventure. This definitely qualifies.

------UPDATE--------
was looking at pictures of my garden to post here, found these:





What's that last one, you ask? Holy crap, they stole my LAVENDER too?! Forget pacifism. It is SO on.
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3 comments:

jfh said...

oh, yeah, the lavender? They took the lavender???? Now them's fightin' words.

ericat said...

I did not see the picture ! I do hope my comper is slow in loading and not that it was stolen too?! Well I do have some aloe seeds for you. Nothing as exciting as seeing that flower on the baby you raised. see me at http://made-in-afrika.com/aloes

Jane Dough said...

I found your blog while searching for information about Dwarf Meyer Lemon trees. So, the spirit of your lost tree lives on. I will be sure to tell my Boston tree about its poor San Francisco counterpart...

Don't let the thieves get you down - in the end gentrification will win!