Gail Felix cannot possibly understand why anyone would steal from a senior center. Moreover, she can’t understand why anyone would steal basic, seasonal plants right out of the garden. However, that is exactly what has been happening at the Pilgrim Senior Center.
The “Late Bloomers,” a volunteer group of four excited gardeners, meet weekly during the spring, summer and fall months, beautifying the side entrance to the busy center.
On July 6, two plants were reported missing from the bed. It was clearly not any sort of animal digging or teenaged prank. Instead, Felix said that there were “very clear shovel markings, where someone had gone in and removed the plants.” Initially, Felix and the three other volunteers were slightly irritated, but not overly concerned.
“Two geraniums missing was not a huge deal,” she said, “However, last Monday morning we found that someone had come and taken six more.”
It was the exact same situation, with shovel marks where an unknown person carefully pulled up the six plants and their roots.
The plants are all donated or given to the group at a far reduced price from Seasons on Warwick Avenue. The volunteer group works every spring, planting fresh flowers for the summer season. They return again in August, putting in plants that will thrive in the fall. Finally, before the cold sets in, they cover the beds with mulch for the winter.
Unfortunately, this is not the first incidence of plant theft.
“Last summer, we did plant vegetables, and really didn’t get to use any of them, they were gone by the time we could pick, Felix said. “That I understand – if no one sees you picking a tomato and giving it a quick bite, you’re likely to do it.”
George Morgan agrees, pointing to the Salvation Army bins across the parking lot.
“Those bins attract some characters, and I could see where picking some food would make sense,” he said.
However, this feels a little bit different to both gardeners.
“These plants are just annuals. Cheap and easily bought anywhere. There is no reason to take them, they aren’t special,” Felix said.
The group was initially unsure how to proceed, saying it feels unnecessary to pursue gardening any further, if an unwelcome visitor will continue to ruin all of their efforts.
However, on Friday morning, they were back at it again, thanks to more donations from Seasons, and a little hope that the disappearances were behind them.
Jan Burza, a member of the Bloomers, who lives close by, laughingly says that she’s been “doing surveillance” to check on the garden over the weekend days, and hopes that last week was the end of the saga.
“The garden is such a nice added feature that the center offers,” She said while replanting, “While we do the upkeep, this is a place where anyone who wants to garden can do as much or as little as they would like to help.”
All members of the Bloomers are heavily involved in the center, listing off activities such as bocce games, theatrical performances and bingo. They want to keep the building they care about looking at it’s best. “We’re happy to work on the garden,” Gail says, “The situation is what it is, but if it happens again, I’m just not sure if it will be worth it to replant.”