Ethics: Stealing flowers

An ex-housemate of ours, who also lived in the same house that boasted the milk crate bed base, used to stroll around the neighbourhood stealing posies of flowers from other people’s gardens when she couldn’t afford to buy them.

Flowers from markets – or, mysteriously, that stall at Flinders Street Station – can be pretty cheap ($5 or less), so stealing your own is not really justifiable by cost, and let us also not forget that it is illegal. But if you are going to steal flowers, here are some tips to minimise the ‘stealyness’.

You are just going for a nice walk. And along the way, you will blithely pluck a flower or two that catch your fancy. Never give off the calculating air of a flower thief, and for fuck’s sake don’t hold a pair of scissors or secateurs in one hand.

Don’t trespass. Always choose flowers that are in a park, a public space, or hanging over a fence onto a street or lane. This is a good example of a plant it is okay to nip some blooms from. But forget the flower if you have to enter private property to pick it – even by sticking your arm through a fence.

Don’t denude or damage a plant. Choose profusely blooming plants so that nobody will miss one or two. Don’t take more than a few flowers from any one plant, take them from unobtrusive areas if you can, and break the stems as cleanly as possible.

Be quick and unobtrusive. Don’t tug frenziedly on the plant, or spend ages lurking suspiciously. Just quietly pick the damn flower, and if it doesn’t come off the plant easily, walk away.

Consider leaves and branches. You won’t have to steal as many flowers if you mix up your stolen arrangement with some attractive sprays of leaves. Also, non-floral arrangements – such as a vase of bold, sculptural dead branches – can be just as aesthetically pleasing.