Community garden vandalism.

Ugh…what a start to the week.  I received a call early this morning that the community garden I belong to had been severely vandalized overnight.  Of course I had to head off to work, so I wasn’t able to get down and assess the damage as soon as I would have liked, but it’s just as well…it was pretty upsetting.  If a neighbour in one of the nearby houses hadn’t chased off the culprits, who knows how much worse it could have been?

The door to the shed had been forced off its hinges and everything inside scattered about (nothing was stolen, though, fortunately). A kind donor had given us several glass light fixture covers for use as cloches and all but one of them were smashed, which meant broken glass everywhere.  Our brand new arbour was badly damaged, but at least it’s repairable.  One of the apple trees had its leader cut off.  The worst thing was the damage to the individual beds – some gardeners had cabbages, Brussels sprouts, and onions yanked out.  Other plants – tomatoes, potatoes, beans, peas, raspberries – were topped.  Trellises and tomato cages and garden ornaments were pulled out and broken.  And for what?  So some bored young adults could get a good laugh?

I just spent the last hour delivering the bad news to our members and letting those whose beds were most affected know the extent of the damage.  Not fun.

IMG_1546My smashed potato plants….

Of course, community gardens are public spaces and this kind of thing can happen, but we’ve been lucky so far (the garden is six years old). I really hope this is just an isolated incident.

The garden that I tend at the apartment is also in a public space and I’ve seen a lot over the years – hens and chicks and begonias stolen, plants chopped down to the quick with weed whackers or sprayed with herbicides, used syringes in the junipers (seriously!).  But you’re hearing more and more about trees and perennials being dug up out of private residential gardens – back yards, even. I personally know a lady who had her entire lily collection carefully excavated from a bed in her front yard in the middle of the night.  And I know when I worked in the garden centre, people were constantly trying to stuff geraniums and other plants into their handbags.

Of course, there are other far more serious things in the world to worry about, but it does make me sad to see this kind of thing happening.  Fortunately, I think many of the damaged plants in the garden will make a speedy recovery, especially as we’re finally getting some much-needed rain.

Have you ever had any of your plants deliberately damaged or stolen?  


  1. It’s very disheartening to hear stories like that. Just such a lack of respect for other people and the nature they’ve destroyed. Sheryl, I hope the gardens recover and they catch the vandals

    • We’ve spent the week repairing the broken structures and propping up plants – and it has helped immensely that we received some badly-needed rain. Hopefully things will start to look up again soon. 🙂

  2. Little buggers. Some people have no respect for other people’s property. Of course, if they happened to be on the receiving end of this kind of behaviour it would be an entirely different story.

  3. I am shocked and sad! I am so sorry for you! Who would do such a thing? I hope you can restore some. A big comforting hug through cyberspace my dear, I am truly sad for you. xo Johanna

  4. Oh, I’m so sorry to hear this! I don’t know why people have to do things like that. There’s just no point in that kind of pointless destruction of innocents. Hugs, N 🙂 ❤

  5. I am sorry to hear this happened! I hope the police catch them! Maybe several hours of labor tending and restoring your community garden are in order if they are caught.

    • Unfortunately, it looks as if they won’t ever be caught – but you’re right, a little “community garden” service would be a good fit for a punishment. We have plenty of quackgrass that needs pulling…. 🙂

  6. So sorry to hear about the vandalism. So senseless! Hope you and your members can salvage some of their gardens.

    • Thank you, Auntie! Things are looking quite a bit more positive now…it’s always amazing to me how quickly plants can recover given the right conditions. Unfortunately we can’t do anything about the chopped corn stalks, or all the plants that were completely ripped out.

  7. That is awful and completely malicious. There is something seriously wrong with someone who goes to such a length to do that much damage (or any damage really). Did you report it to the police? I bet you anything pictures of the vandals doing the damage will surface on Facebook, Instagram or Youtube.

    • We called the police right away as soon as we found out, but it sounds like it is highly unlikely the trio will be caught. I hadn’t thought of it, but you’re right – they may have filmed or photographed their escapades, will have to check around the ‘net.

    • We finally received some rain this week, so that is helping with the recovery – if the heat had stayed, I think we would have been in trouble. Hopefully nearly everything will rebound – some of it, like the corn, will be completely lost as there isn’t time to recover. I heard the other day that Environment Canada is predicting that our first frost in Calgary will be on 15 September – I don’t know how they have reached that conclusion, but I hope they’re wrong.

  8. Very sorry to hear about this. So far at our community garden we’ve only had spray nozzles and a bench stolen – not great, but not the kind of sad vandalism you describe here.

    • Everyone puts so much effort into each community garden space, making them welcome for members and visitors alike. It’s so hurtful whenever any kind of theft or vandalism occurs.

      Thanks so much for following my blog – I am happy to have now discovered yours!

  9. So sorry to read about this! Wanton destruction, on whatever scale, is always terribly upsetting. May your gardens recover and flourish!

  10. It’s not just the plant destruction that is hurtful, it’s the obliteration of all the work that went into making this a rewarding, satisfying place to spend your time. I wonder if people who destroy physical THINGS have any sense of the mental and physical ENERGY that went into creating those things. So easy to destroy, so much effort to build. That’s what devastates me about the situation. I’ve never had that happen to me because all my gardens have been on property that was down a long driveway from any thoroughfare, and pretty much nobody knows it’s there but me. Animals are my vandals, not people. And now that I finally have my critter-proof fence I’m not so angry at the animals anymore. 😉

    • That’s exactly it – we can fix all the trellises and the arbour, etc.. But the hard work that everyone invested is the most valuable thing – and it was destroyed so quickly.

      There is definitely something to be said for having a private space to garden, as yours is. (And I’m happy you’re not having such trouble with the pests – that can be rough to deal with as well!).

  11. I hope in their next life if not in this one, they have a taste of what hunger feels like. Vandalism is a lack of respect for others. It’s in epidemic proportion once again. I hope they are done with their terror and don’t return. I’ve been lucky so far but then, I’ve never had much nor a garden before. I hope this is the last of the hooligans.

  12. Fortunately I’ve never had to deal with anything like that. The only problem I have is the neighbors cats destroying plants using my raised beds as a litter box. not sure how to solve that.
    We did have a problem here in Portland with people digging up Japanese maples in gardens all over town a while back. Needless to say, the thieves seemed professionals who knew what to steal. Only rare and special ones disappeared during those nights.
    Sad day, when having “fun” amounts to this type of behavior!

  13. You and the other gardeners must be feeling heartbroken. I’m so sorry that such a cruel and pointless thing happened. I guess I’ve been lucky, but a friend of mine had plants pulled from beds created on the parkway by his house.

  14. What a terrible shame. 😦 I don’t understand the destruction-is-fun mindset either. Back in the early 1990s we were building a house and the day after all of the windows were installed I arrived at the jobsite to find that vandals had smashed every window they could possibly hit with rocks, broke into the house and vandalised the new oak staircase with graffiti via knife/razorblade. This was in a very upscale neighborhood, on the very same road as the golf/country club!! The local police were not terribly surprised and called it the “bored spoiled teenager syndrome”. Sickening.

  15. We’ve had the same thing off and on in our community garden. This year, it was ripping out flowers and stomping on them. I’ve also had plants stolen–a nice lavender. Don’t know what to think of it. Hope you can recover the season.

  16. I am so sorry this has had to happen to your wonderful community garden. I hope you can put things right soon but I’m sure it will take your members much longer than the plants to feel better. My mother-in-law had a few plants and shrubs stolen from her front garden a few years ago. It seems to be a growing problem. Ornaments and statues disappear and only rarely are recovered – usually in someone else’s garden hundreds of miles away the new owner having bought it in all innocence. Some sapling trees were planted in a village near me and all were damaged so severely one night they had to be discarded. This is all very sad and I’m not sure why it’s happening or how it can be stopped.

    • How awful! It’s true – theft and damage of garden plants and structures does seem to be on the rise, and I guess it must be like that everywhere. One of my friends speculated that it might be the increasing costs of maintaining a garden (so people are just stealing what they can’t afford). Perhaps, in some cases. I think a lot of it is a total lack of respect for other people’s property – this stuff is just being damaged or stolen for fun (or maybe in the case of expensive garden statuary, money).

      • I agree with you Sheryl. Some of it could be stealing because of poverty but I think most is down to lack of respect and cruelty. During the worst of the financial problems we have all gone through fruit and veg were being stolen from gardens and allotments but not much damage was done. Livestock was stolen too and in some cases was being butchered on the spot! We aren’t seeing so much of that but the thefts are continuing especially the ornaments and statues etc.

  17. Boy, that’s nasty business! What a shock it must’ve been to see that damage–it is completely mystifying to me why anyone would do such thing!

  18. So sorry to hear about this. At least deer and woodchuck don’t know any better, but teens should. I would have much rather they ate a few apples or stole a few blueberries rather than just destroyed.
    This is one of the reasons it’s so important to involve younger kids early on so they develop some of that sense of value and respect which this group seems to lack…. but it’s hard to try and reach every child who doesn’t get these lessons at home.

    • I completely agree… we really try at the garden to involve kids as much as possible (we currently have a Grade 5/6 class that have planted a bed so they can use it as inspiration for botanical-themed art and science projects, and a large group of students from a nearby high school have a bed as well for their Earth Club). These particular kids are so enthusiastic about gardening, it’s really a delight to see them. If only they could influence their less-interested peers….

  19. I am at a loss for words as to why people do this sort of thing. What went wrong with their upbringing that they would get enjoyment out of destroying gardens or stealing plants? I do volunteer gardening at a couple of local churches and they stole the petunia plants out of the planters. I’d be thinking twice about stealing from God. 🙂

  20. My heart aches for you, Sheryl. Vandalism is so hard to understand, and in a place that is all about growth and life and food it seems unfathomable. Reading some of the others stories, too, of people digging up someone’s plants in the middle of the night makes me shake my head.

    You must feel traumatized. I know I would. And what sad news to have to share. I’m sorry to hear what you’ve been through.

    • Thanks so much for your kind words, Alys – all of us have been feeling so upset about it all. We’ve now fixed all the broken structures and some of the plants are making a comeback, but I’ve talked to a few gardeners who are uneasy about continuing in a community garden setting – they’re wondering if it is worth it to garden in a public space. That’s the most troubling part. But of course these horrible things can happen on private property as well….

  21. I really cannot “like” this post Sheryl – how awful! I do not understand vandalism and destruction of anything with a malicious intent. I was not brought up to be that way and I could not even imagine doing something like this – more than likely kids! However, digging up someones plants and entire collections sounds like an adult – unbelievable!

  22. I’m really sorry to hear this Sheryl, though it was a few years ago. It’s upsetting. I think of theft as opportunistic dishonesty (not a fan) but vandalism is another thing. It’s disturbing and such a violation of a personal space, especially one as serene as a garden.

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