To The Person Who Stole Plants From My Yard

May 15, 2018 | Lifestuff

Here’s what I think:

You are a person who likes plants and gardens. What you took from me has no resale value, so you undoubtedly stole these plants for yourself or for someone you are close to.

You probably justified this theft by thinking something like, “She has so many plants…I’m only taking a few.” You might have even thought that I wouldn’t notice.

Sometimes people steal because they themselves feel “ripped off” by life…but I assure you, taking from me won’t heal that wound you feel. In fact, it might cause you to feel worse about where and who you are.

Here’s the damage you did with your actions:

As a garden communicator on Cape Cod I’m very generous with my time and my gardens. I open my property for the benefit of non-profits. I use what I learn in my gardens to share that information with others. You have made me think twice about how open hearted I am with what I do.

I started the Horticultural Happy Hour at Cape Cod Beer with the idea that this was a way that plant people, and those who want to learn about gardens, could come together at a local business to connect with each other and share what we know. You might have learned that I’d be away from the house for this event. I have canceled all future meetings because of your actions.

You might think that all the plants that I had staged, ready for placing in the garden, came easily to me. Do you know that I work the equivalent of three full time jobs to have what you stole? Do you think that writing books, hosting a radio program, working at a local garden center, and public speaking are effortless? From the outside looking in, it might appear that all of this comes easily to me…it does not. I work at it, labor over what I do, and feel anxious about whether it’s good enough. 

In some cases you took two of a group of three plants. This means that I won’t have a cluster of these plants to photograph and share with others. The lavender and Echinacea you took were sent to me by a grower who was counting on me to post and speak about these perennials. Now I won’t be able to share good photos and information with other gardeners because you have taken my samples.

I put a great deal of time and effort into my work. And I like to think that people benefit from my determination to spread the love of plants and gardening to the general public. But you have made me question if my labors are worth the hours and struggles I put into what I do. Why should I work so hard if people like yourself are going to just rip me off? 

As someone who cares about plants, I’m asking you to also care about people and rethink your actions. I’m thinking that you might be having second thoughts about the fact that you’ve taken my trust and generosity along with the pots and six-packs you stole. I’m asking you to consider that I have invested my money, time, talents, energy, and kindness in order to have the plants that you somehow felt you were entitled to.

If you’re able to step back and consider my point of view, I’m hoping that you’ll return what you stole to the top of my driveway. The new cameras we’re installing around the house won’t record what is placed there.

You took a Saruma and two Golden Delicious Pineapple Sage that I bought from Avant Gardens. I have worked hard for the money to buy these plants yet you seem to think that somehow you’re entitled to take them because….why?

Darwin Perennials sent me three of each of the plants they would like me to write and speak about. They know that at least three are necessary for good photos, and for a trial that is fair. You have stolen their hopes and the money they spent to grow and send these to me. You have also stolen the knowledge I might have gained and passed on to others about these plants.

It might seem to you that you only took a few plants. But you really stole a grower’s hopes, and my money, time, trust, and knowledge that I might have shared with others. I am so disappointed in you.


  1. Dorothy Torrey

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the impact caused by someone stealing your plants. The plants were going to be used in such a generous way for the good of so many people to benefit:: By giving feedback to the growers, by sharing the beauty by taking pictures, by the knowledge you would have gained and shared with all of us., etc. I am sorry that you experienced such inconsideration and dishonesty from another human being.

    • CL Fornari

      Thanks, Dorothy.
      I think it’s likely that whoever stole these plants has been to my property before. I’m pretty sure it was a woman. And I’d guess that she feels like I have too much and she has too little. Not that it’s any excuse for taking what wasn’t hers…

  2. christine froehlich

    Certainly a disheartening thing to read about. I hope whoever took them will return them!

  3. Buffy Alten

    CL, please don’t let the dreadful thief dampen your enthusiasm for helping all of us with your gardening expertise. We need your knowledge and good will. They are so wrong, but please don’t let them steal your enthusiasm for sharing your gardening help for the majority of us who depend on you so much for inspiration of one of life’s most wonderful pleasures, gardening. I have learned so many life affirming lessons from it and YOU!

  4. Sharon

    I so love reading your work, seeing your beautiful gardens and sharing the joy of gardening. I am so discouraged and disappointed by this persons actions. I know what a violation this is. I am so very sorry that you had to experience it. Please don’t let it damper your enthusiasm and joy in gardening. You are loved and appreciated!

  5. Susan Sheehan

    Well, that just sucks. But there are 100’s of good people for each one that sucks, especially in the gardening world. Focus on them. We, all us gardeners, lose now too as you won’t be able to do, report and share info about these plants. I hope they are returned.

  6. Elaine Johnson

    So well said CL. Often people make attribution errors about us, thinking we somehow have enjoyed what we’ve achieved by some miracle. The time and hard work you have devoted to your career are legend. Don’t allow this incident to dampen your enthusiasm. I really feel your pain as I have had similar disappointments from people’s actions. Thinking of you.

  7. Margaret Mankiewicz

    CL, that was so well said that I can’t say anything but “ How sad !” And I hope the thief is moved by how many people can be affected by his/her actions! I am so sorry that you , who are so generous with your time,, are the the brunt of this person’s actions!! Don’t lose faith in people!

  8. Deb

    Well said and thought out. The thief has real self loathing issues that have been turned outward to cause this theft. I appreciate your insight and love of gardening and sharing with those of us who aspire to become better gardeners

  9. Deb

    It’s such a shame plants aren’t even expensive. Your response was so good. I wish you well and hope they will be returned.

  10. Judy Vaz

    As someone who came home from work one day to find only the holes in the ground where I’d planted a tree peony, 3 new varieties of hydrangea and a Harry Lauder Walking Stick, I feel not only your initial outrage but also your sense of violation. I knew from what was taken and what was left that this was someone who knew their plants & I would look at all the new plantings in the area searching for the thief…to no avail.

    Gardeners are people who share ideas, plants, knowledge. It is part of what makes gardening so fulfilling for us. I loved watching people cross the street to walk by my corner lot garden to see what was blooming or to chat and on more than one occasion I’d dig out a plant and share. Sometimes I’d watched slack-jawed from inside the house as they took out their pruners for hydrangea blossoms, winterberry or Callicarpa branches and wondered why they did not regard this as theft?
    I don’t think the person who took your plants realized that it’s not just the plants that were stolen but as you put it they took your sense of “trust and generosity” which is the real causality of this thoughtless act.

    Thank you for sharing this experience with us all. I hope your plants will “miraculously reappear” but selfishly I hope you continue to share your garden, knowledge and goodness with us all.

  11. Jane Johnson

    Thank you for posting your thoughts and feelings about the theft C.L. I don’t know what has happened to this world we live in. People just think that they should take whatever they want from whomever they want as though it is their God given right. As an amateur gardener, I love creating beauty in my yard. Each and every plant has some sentimental value to me. I have many plants that have been given as gifts, and more that belonged to family members who shared and are now deceased. I would literally be heartbroken if someone had come into my gardens and taken them. I’ve shared plants with many friends, family, and acquaintances over the years, and what has happened to you makes me want to rethink letting others that I don’t know well into my “happy place” any longer. I am so sorry that you have had a theft in your gardens, and every gardener on Cape Cod feels your hurt, violation and pain

  12. Debby

    So eloquently put! As someone who listens every Saturday to you and so enjoys your wit and wisdom I hope that the good news and feelings that you spread through out your listening audience brings you the good feelings that outweigh the disappointment of this horrible act. I hope that the blooms that are left in your garden can eventually bring a smile to you.

  13. Gale Greene

    C.L., It saddens me to think there’s an individual who would be so bold as to take advantage of your garden hospitality, tresspass on your property and steal your plants. How can this person truly think that this act of thievery doesn’t have any impact or repercussions on the community? Because it does! The Barnstable Education Foundation (BEF) has been the fortunate recipient of your generous invitation to open your personal garden for tours to benefit our non profit organization. Your willingness to share your knowledge of plants, your love of gardening and your expertise as an author has attracted hundreds of visitors over the years to help us raise money to support educational initiatives and innovative ideas through teacher grants. The fact that this person’s thoughtless actions may cause you to discontinue opening your garden is understable but so disheartening and a terrible loss to our community. We sincerely hope the thief has made or makes the decision to return all the plants.

    • CL Fornari

      Thanks, Gale, and all the others who have commented here. So far the person who took my plants has not returned them. Call me crazy, but I’m still hoping that it might happen. Message to the thief: you can do something that will make us both feel better! Returning these plants to the top of my driveway will restore your belief that you really are a good person, in deed and at heart. It will restore my belief that people (you and me both) can make the right decision even after a brief lapse in judgement. And together we can decide that it’s always possible to grow good things, even as we all bumble along, balancing envy, good intentions and the love of plants.

  14. Jen M

    I’m sorry this happened. I hope the person returns them. It’s terrible when people are on your property without you knowing, and then stealing on top of it. 🙁

  15. Cricket Beauregard Lewis

    We plant people are such ‘givers’ by our very nature…what a shame to have someone ruin that for you, and through your blog, for us; making us all distrustful.
    Cricket Beauregard Lewis

  16. Donna Frost

    Today is a sad day because I’m reading your blog after seeing two security camera videos on facebook showing people stealing potted plants and hanging baskets from homes. I’m very sorry this happened to you and them. But happily on a gardening forum an internet friend recommended your website so I am visiting for the first time. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and expertise.

  17. Catherine Logan

    Reading this makes me both sad and angry. I have had things taken from and damaged on my property. As a result I do not plant anything near where people walk across the front of my property for fear they will be taken. I would like to put some decorative pots to mark the beginning of the driveway but know it would mean being hyper vigilant. I often park my car at the top of the driveway to make it clear that the house is occupied and that someone might walk up the driveway at any moment. I hope the person eventually returned your plants. I value your enthusiasm for sharing.

    • CL Fornari

      Thanks, Catherine. I never got the plants back, but I now have cameras on all sides of my house and property!

  18. Miriam Merrill

    I know how it feels .. terrible. We thrive and find ways to deal with the mentally challenged. I hope you heal and snap a good photo of the jerk

  19. Johnny

    my wife and I just moved into a home and only just 6 days there i noticed when i went out this morning 3 bougainvillea were gone along with 2 medium size clay plots that were heavy. I understand what you are saying but in my case i am not allowing anyone to own me and to waste my time. sure, my plants meant a lot to me and gave me much pleasure, but they are replaceable so if i am to stay here i have one extra-large clay pot that they did not take and is very heavy and just can’t fit into a car so easy. now i will buy a huge bougainvillea and be happy that no one took my wife or my life even though i have 2 lives one here and the other where my first citizenship is and that is in Heaven that enables me to have the most joy and pleasure as i understand in this world things can be taken away but there are something that no one here in this world can take away from me and that is God. it was very nice to see your post and the beautiful flowers.


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