Gardening ethics  

Tulips and daffodils in my front retaining wall. This will be daylilies when summer arrives

Tulips and daffodils in my front retaining wall. This will be daylilies when summer arrives

My mother called me the other day to tell me she was peeved at Dad because he didn’t think she should be picking daffodils from her neighbor’s woods. In her mind, her dad (my grandpa) had planted the daffodils that had naturalized and spread, the new owners of the woods didn’t do anything to cultivate or encourage the flowers, and they didn’t trek through to see if the blossoms had been thinned a bit. She didn’t see anything wrong with picking a few to bring into the house.

Now this is the same woman who when I was newly engaged (30+ years ago) called me to tell me my future father-in-law was in her horse pasture picking a huge bunch of her lilacs. Sure enough the next time I visited the Beck’s there was an enormous bouquet of purple blossoms in a water pitcher vase. Herb was very open about telling me how and where he got the flowers for his wife. He didn’t really see anything wrong with trimming the bush on the other side of the fence.

I was reading on an online garden forum where gardeners were sharing their philosophy on the ethics of helping themselves to flowers gone to seed in greenhouses and plant stores. Several felt it was fine to pick up and keep blossoms that had fallen to the ground, while others thought that if the blossom was done and going to seed that pinching it for yourself was okay, and others felt that it was stealing profits from companies that rely on selling seeds and plants.

My worst crime was when I pinched a cutting of a variegated Pachysandra while dining at an alfresco restaurant. I’d never seen that particular kind of Pachysandra and my plan was to root it. Well, clearly I’m not a very good thief because while I did leave the restaurant with the little cutting, I forgot about it and washed my jacket thus destroying the bit of stem and leaves I’d absconded with. So while I was a thief, I didn’t benefit from my effort.

What are your thoughts? If you don’t destroy the original plant, impinge on the beauty of the garden, cut into someone’s profits… is it okay to help yourself?


About Kary Beck

Mother and wife, gardener, wine enthusiast, avid online bargain hunter, and owner of two black-and-tan cocker spaniels.
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