Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Steal This

Does this look like an abandoned logging road or DOT highway pullout? Is the garden so ratty it looks like it has just been let go and turned into an abandoned field?

Today while I was working on my column repairs a big fancy white SUV pulled into the top of my drive. A well dressed women got out of the passenger side and walked into the roadside vegetable/flower garden. I was watching. She returned to the big SUV with a fist full of Ironweed.

I hollered, "Excuse me. Just wait a minute there."

I went up there and asked her if she thought it was ok to come on private property and pick the wild flowers. She and her accomplish, another woman both said "Oh we didn't know."

Didn't know what I want to know.

"I only picked the pretty purple ones" she said.

"Yes I like those too."

I have already had the bejesus scared out of me about theft of construction materials and as you can see there is not a working gate up yet.

This time it was only flowers. The Ironweed is what they were after. She just yanked the tops right off two of the stems. To the right, out of the picture are the sad looking fabric covered rows of peppers, squash and tomato. The cucumbers bit the dust this year. How tidy does a place have to be before a person recognizes it as some one's garden?

So what would you do?

In the meantime while not protecting my valuables, I have been busy mixing 5000 psi concrete with fiber mesh added and pouring it into 12 inch diameter tubes that have been placed two feet up around my 8 inch diameter columns. The tops which turned out much better will have the few minor flaws patched with a masonry coating mixed with an acrylic fortifier. I am making very sure this concrete pours well and gets a good vibration.

The taller columns will get the same treatment with 12 inch diameter tubes placed at seven feet up on the 8 inch diameter columns. I'm gonna be mixing concrete for a spell.

It has started raining again and the summer is slipping away and so is my hillside of saprolite subsoil every time it rains hard enough. I have finally begun seeding this hillside with a blended mix of fescue grasses. Nothing has germinated in this soil for three months. It was obviously seed free. The grass is just temporary, something to hold the ground in place and begin the process of building a living soil while I build a small cabin.

Small piles of rocks are beginning to form as I continue to work the ground in bits and pieces. We all know what Piles O' Rocks mean. I am going to have to make some thing with all these rocks. Some thing new and different. I'm thinking. I also have five three foot tall sections of empty tube forms left over. Hmmm.

The fancy ladies in the SUV didn't pilfer any of these perennial sunflowers. I am fairly certain this is Helianthus maximilianii.

Perhaps once I start organizing some of these wild beauties people will think twice before they help themselves to the goodies in the roadside vegetable and flower garden.


Pam/Digging said...

It looks tended. There's a fence. I'm not sure what more you could do, Christopher.

I've heard about people stealing whole plants right out of the botanical garden in Austin. If people are brazen enough to do that, it doesn't surprise me at all that a few people who drive by your property and see your pretty flowers will stop and take them in full view of you.

You did the right thing to talk to them about it. A sincere apology from them, not a lame excuse, would have made things better though.

chuck b. said...

Sounds like your gardening achieved the desired results! You have a lightly tended naturalistic garden using plants occurring in your area. I can see how a city slicker from North Carolina wouldn't be able to recognize your gardening for what it was. That said, I would never pick flowers from anywhere but my garden (tho' I did recently take a succulent cutting from guerilla-gardened public land), but I collect seed once in awhile depending on the seedhead, but never more than a little bit.

I want to make a funny remark about you lurking in the bushes or something, but I just woke up and the funny bones aren't working yet.

Annie in Austin said...

Instead of lurking in the bushes yourself, Christopher, you could get a big dog to jump out and scare plant-pilferers, but he might do more damage to the garden than the thieves.

"I only picked the pretty purple ones" she said.

That line is still killing me.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Cheryl said...

You could suggest she only take the ugly brown ones, or maybe some of those nice blackberry sprouts. Have a little fun trying to get some free weeding labor from the inconsiderate. Maybe they'll realize what they were doing.

Don't worry about whether your place looks occupied. I've known people to drive up to city lots with grocery bags to pick fruit from trees in the front yard.

bev said...

I volunteer at a public garden which includes a demonstration vegetable garden. People are always pilfering from it. When we put out the Christmas decorations we had to fasten them securely enough that it would take several minutes to get them loose. It's sad.

I choose to take some solace in the fact that the lady actually recognized your flowers as pretty - e.g. she is bothering to look at the natural world at all. Some people don't. So you are doing a service, in some sense.

lisa said...

I agree with the others...your garden must look pretty nice to attract thieves. At least she didn't flip you off like Hank's lilac thief this past spring! I suppose you could put up a SIGN-"DDT re-introducion trials...DO NOT TOUCH...plants are carcinogenic". That may attract druggies and propellant-sniffers, though!

Deviant Deziner said...

It looks purty darn tempting to stop and pick the flowers.
Gotta admit, I've done some road side snatching here and there in my life time.
I've even been known to bring little baggies with me to the Strybing arboretum when the Meconopsis have gone to seed in hopes of skaking enough seed from the dry seed heads to propagate some of my own.

Now about this rain and your hillside.
I might suggest you find a local erosion control store and purchase a few coir rolls or at the very least do like the native American Indians did and slightly dig out some drainage switch backs and pound in a couple of bales of sterile straw to keep that hill from further eroding.

... what can I say, I guess I'll never be able to shake this need to project manage even when the project isn't mine.
Your friend,
The 'Dom'
< as in Construction Domanatrix>

Christopher C. NC said...

Pam, it should not surprise me what people will do, but it does. Lord there is Iroweed growing all over the side of the road. My driveway just made it safe and convenient for them.

Chuck, I have not achieved anything much yet. All the credit goes to the resident gardeners and mostly my mom, the seed gathering and spreading machine, the Merry Meadow Maker.

Annie, I am not a dog person, perhaps a mountain lion. I have also considered an animal skin stretched on some wooden stakes.

Hey Cheryl. There is plenty of Ragweed I could have offered her.

Bev, I think the biggest service I offered was a convenient driveway to pull off the road.

Lisa they were caught off guard and did say they were sorry, but I have been thinking all along of some kind of sculptural evil eye. Hank's Rapa Nui Moai this morning is similar to some thoughts I have had.

Yes Ma'am Deviant. I have purchased some biodegradeable wood mesh fiber. I was going to start that today and it starting raining again as I finished repairing the bottom of the last short column. I have already put in two drain basins attached to underground 4" flexible tubing along one side of the drive. It is an ongoing project.

I have been known to do a little pilfering myself. Some seeds, some cuttings, mostly when a plant I was tending needed some "shaping", but I would never disfigure a plant or take the best parts and certainly not a snatch and grab operation.

EAL said...

Oh, they don't care. I had half my obviously carefully cultivated raised circular bed of tulips half-stripped last spring. Different type of thief, but I think many will pick someone else's flowers if they think they can get away with it.