Gaping holes now take the place of 43 blossoming plants in the flower beds in Pioneer Garden and Purple Heart Memorial Garden of Soldotna Creek Park.
Early Monday morning, the horticulturist for Soldotna’s Parks and Recreation department, Donna Melvin, came to set up the park’s sprinkler system and discovered plants had been removed from the beds at the entrance of the park and near the playground.
She said she isn’t sure when exactly the plants were stolen, but the theft likely occurred over the weekend.
“It’s unreal,” Melvin said. “You put so much into it, it feels kind of defeating.”
The plants were pulled perfectly from the ground, “root ball and all,” she said. Recently transplanted lilies, towering purple delphinium and red poppies had been ripped from the ground, she said.
Someone knew what they were doing, Melvin said. The majority of flowers taken were purple and pink colored, but some were orange as well, she said.
“They really went shopping around,” Parks and Recreation Department Director Andrew Carmichael said. “The situation was very disheartening.”
A report has been filed with the Soldotna Police department about the theft, which totals about $1,000 in expenses, from weeding and nurturing to materials and plants, Carmichael said.
Carmichael said he is unsure if there will be any replanting, or if the spots will remain open.
Melvin said she has done some work in filling in the holes, and repairing some plants that were left behind but partially pulled from the earth.
Most of the plants Melvin used in the park were purchased locally.
Kelly Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.