My husband and I were clearing leaves and winter debris out of one of the hosta beds when we heard a car stop in the road just slightly past our house. A woman got out of the car and quickly walked to a flower garden we have created at the edge of our lawn. She was carrying a large plastic bag.

This particular flower garden starts with a thick backdrop of ferns planted in front of the stone wall that runs parallel to the road. We have planted bleeding hearts, sweet cicely, tulips, and daffodils in front of the ferns, as well as several colors of violets. The pinks, reds, yellows, whites, and blues of the various flowers look especially beautiful right now against the lush green of the ferns.

We’re used to people slowing down or stopping to look at this little garden, but we were justifiably concerned when the woman suddenly started ripping great clumps of the ferns out of the soil and stuffing them into her bag. It took us a few seconds to realize what she was doing and to get close enough to her to say something, and in that short time she had almost filled the bag with ferns. When my mild-mannered husband quietly asked her if she realized that the garden was private property and represented a lot of hard work that she was destroying, she snapped that she was only getting some “fiddlehead greens” and that we had plenty more. Even when we told her that these were not fiddlehead ferns and that this type of fern is not edible, she continued to pull up ferns and stuff them into her bag.

The incident ended rather badly. We told her to stop pulling up the ferns, she became very angry and stalked back to her big SUV. She was, however, still clutching the bag… and that bag was packed almost to overflowing with our fern fronds.

I hope she didn’t try to eat them…