Dear PoPville – “sometimes I just do not understand people”


“Dear PoPville,

We live in Mt. Pleasant. We have a very modest front lawn–some dirt, mostly grass. Hoping to spruce up our yard, as well as beautify the neighborhood in our own small way, my partner planted some flowers in our flower box. Three times over the past two weeks someone has ripped flowers out of the box and tossed them onto our lawn. Perfectly nice flowers, not harming anyone, and doing pretty well given the amount of direct sunlight they get.

Why would someone do that, again and again? Does this happen to other people who plant flowers in their flower boxes. Or is it just someone who lives near us who doesn’t like our flowers (or us)? Like I said, sometimes I just do not understand people.”


49 Comment

  • people who do not like themselves very much do these kinds of things

    • Could be squirrels

    • This is correct. I’ve gone through serious bouts of depression and, when drunk, have behaved in a similar manner. It doesn’t reflect on you at all. The people that are doing this are most likely externalizing internal feelings. As an aside: I’m sorry for my past behavior.

  • I mean, at this point I’d sit by the window with a 6 pack for the night and just wait and see.

  • nightborn

    I’m sorry that happened to your flowers! People suck. Could one of your neighbors possibly have some kind of grudge against you?

  • That sucks big time. Could you, perhaps, plant some stinging nettles?

  • A friend of mine planted four o’clocks near her fence. The next day her neighbor ripped them out. When asked why, the neighbor said “they attract bees.” It’s such a selfish and idiotic reason, and such a rude reaction that there’s no point in even arguing!

    People have no sense sometimes. 🙁

  • dont let them win… just keep planting those flowers.

  • Sucks. At least they let you keep the flowers. When I lived in Columbia Heights, people would dig up and steal flowers from my neighbor’s yard every now and then.

  • A squirrel ripped two of my plants clean out of the ground last year and tossed them onto the patio. I blamed humans for the first one (inside my gate!!) but I came out one morning and caught the rodent in the act. It was war all summer…

    • In case it is squirrels doing this, try placing rocks other objects around the root ball. Enough so that a squirrel would have trouble dislodging it.
      Lots of flowering plants get stolen just before Mother’s Day (because nothing says I love you more than a stolen plant).

    • Squirrels were my first thought! I’ve had them dig up new herbs and flowers.

    • I think it’s squirrels. I was so angry at my neighborhood until I caught a squirrel in the act. If you plant them too shallow they will rip them right up (event bulbs..)

      • houseintherear

        They also climb giant sunflowers and take the entire tops of them off and back to their nests! It’s quite a sight. You could try cooking some peppers and onions some time (and eating the good stuff) then pouring the leftover water around the plants. This helped me with the sunflowers a few years ago.

        • houseintherear

          … or, if it’s not squirrel, pour the boiling leftover water on the perps! jk sorta

        • wish they would have done this last year when someone in mt p planted a ton of sunflowers at 17th and lamont. so ugly and out of place.

    • That happened to me last year. I had just transplanted a baby plant and had it out in a pot on the patio. I was watching TV one day and out the patio door I saw a squirrel run up, dig up the bulb and scamper away.

    • Another good squirrel deterrent…..cayenne pepper. If you replant the flowers, sprinkle a liberal amount of cayenne on the soil before you spread the mulch. The squirrels will leave things alone.

  • It’s not about you. This city has many sad and angry people in it. People should be kinder to other people, but stress (or life situation) sometimes leads people to random acts. Be thankful you have a conscious; its now a gift that sadly, not many people posses these days. Have a good weekend, stay conscientious and grow wise. Cheers.

    • It really is a sad situation, and of all the places I’ve lived around the country, I see more senseless acts like this here than anywhere else.

      • Just curious, can you elaborate? I have experienced some senseless acts here (pumpkins smashed, ceramic pig smashed) but I felt like it was much worse in nyc.

      • There’s a wider chasm of economic inequality here than in most other places in the country.
        Crimes of convenience, IMHO.
        For whatever reason, people have expectations that DC should be some sort of bucolic suburb. No one leaves packages on doorsteps or large expensive potted plants in public view in NYC. If those things were stolen in NYC, people would say “Duh. What did you expect?” Same thing in DC folks. Why do we have a different expectation here?

    • Its either squirells or you have drawn the ire of the “historic police” by planting in the public space portion of your yard florwers that some one thinks are poisonous or something….Johnsons sells time lapse cameras . I had to put one in my garden to stop of Senate stafffer from stealing flowers from my front yard.

  • I live on a quiet residential street in the city and have had flowers and plants ripped out of my window boxes each summer for years. They are usually torn out and thrown on the sidewalk in front of my house. We’ve had Christmas light bulbs unscrewed and stolen. Our house butts up directly with the sidewalk, with no yard, fence, or walkway between the front of the house and sidewalk. I’ve always figured it’s just an easy target. I could imagine such things seeming fun or entertaining for a bored or intoxicated young person perhaps. It’s always been upsetting to me though when it happens.

  • It seems like if they had something against you, they wouldn’t be selective with what they ripped out.

  • gotryit

    Wow… surveillance cameras please? Just point them at the flowers.

  • This has also happened to my daffodils in Truxton Circle. I’m thinking bored kids?

  • Have you considered investing in a fully automatic paintball gun and taking a day off? Several hits to the face/groin/torso/exposed flesh seem to be in order.

  • Jerks only win if we let them. Squirrels hate cinnamon, so if they are the culprits, stick cinnamon sticks around the soil in your garden box. Roses. Flowering Quince. Pyricantha. These are some plants with thorns…. might make someone think twice before they grab a handful – especially if this is some drunk late night trolling punk like I suspect it is. Someone stole my Flying Pig out of my front garden, which was place well back from the sidewalk. I have had some deviously crafty friends who have literally “wiped down” their yard art with cat/dog feces in order to thwart people!

  • msmaryedith

    Happened to me when I was living in Old Town. The entire plant was stolen. I later was told it was because I planted them the weekend of Mother’s Day. What mother WOULDN’T want a plant lovingly stolen from a neighbor’s window box?

  • We have a bus stop in front of our house, and had some of this vandalism. It turns out the perp is about six or seven years old. I just laughed about it when we found out, but now I want to put in flowers for the Spring, and am not sure what to do. Its no good talking to the mother, she doesn’t speak a word of English.

    • I find that if you go ahead and say your piece, while pointing at the child in question, that even non-English-speaking mothers will get the gist and keep a closer eye.

  • Set up a camera and catch them (person or rodent)

  • My condolences. Yesterday someone came INTO my back yard and razed two large hedges that had been doing a very nice job covering an ugly old chain link fence. I suspect that the neighbors somehow found the plants objectionable (perhaps they were attracting bees or casting shade on his grass?) – but I’ve always thought it was standard practice to at least talk to your neighbor before removing something that’s on the fence line, especially if removing it requires you to enter their yard! People suck.

    • When I plant bulbs in my back yard I usually put chicken wire over them until they start to come up in the Spring, otherwise the squirrels will dig them up and eat them. I don’t plant anything in my front yard too close to my fence/gate. I’ve watched people from my kitchen window spit in my flower pots – why, I have no idea. I’ve also had people put their bags of dog shit in my planters. Thank God I never garden without wearing thick work gloves. As for my large planters/pots I thread a thin chain through them and chain them to the stair railing. People will walk off with your stuff in a heart beat.

  • I live in Columbia Heights, and last summer someone cut the tops — just the tops — off all my tulips. Why??

  • Walking home from the library the other day, we were not more than 10 minutes behind someone who was picking and tossing flowers from every garden he/she passed. We never saw the perp, but our path was littered with just-picked daffodils (mostly). So my daughter collected them (she is well trained to never pick a flower unless it’s growing in our own yard) and now we have a pretty bouquet on the table.
    So to all the folks along 13th street who lost their daffodils, sorry, but thank you.

  • Mt. Pleasant’s annual rite of Spring. Followed shortly thereafter by mugging season and passed out drunk in someone’s yard season.
    This year – mostly in an effort to catch the people who keep stealing packages off porches – I’ve decided to spend more time sitting outside, paying attention to what’s going on in my neighborhood. Maybe if we all start being more vigilant and more present we can cut down on some of these quality of life crimes. Also, Graham’s office says if we all start reporting these nuisance crimes we are likely to get more regular foot patrols. I have no reason to actually believe that, but it seems worth a shot.

    • Actually, this afternoon, about 5 PM, walking down Lamont , a bike cop slowly passed us and then got on the sidewalk next to us. We stepped off to let him pass, not realizing that he had stopped on the sidewalk because a man was “napping” on someone’s patio. I’ve seen this burracho “napping” all around Mt P but never on someone’s private property. The cop was politely but firmly moving him along. Yes, 3 hours earlier I saw another cop completely walk past an excessively drunk, aggressive man slurring insults at 2 women with children but hey, I will take the cop on Lamont all day long.

  • Some people just want to see the world burn…

  • This does not look like the mischief of squirrels to me. When they dig the portulaca out of my flowerpot, those flowers disappear. That’s also a pretty high wall for them to climb up with a ball of soil that big in their teeth. I’m sorry to say this looks like the result of malicious or intoxicated behavior to me.

    Please don’t keep it to yourself. This is a kind of vandalism. It’s good that you posted your story here, and you might also consider posting something on your neighborhood listserv, and talking to your neighbors about what’s been happening. It also could be worthwhile to call the MPD. Maybe there’s a pattern of vandalism occurring in your neighborhood, and your report might help lead to an arrest.

    Don’t lose heart!

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