In September, a local resident appeared in Masterton District Court facing a charge of theft for taking plants from Queen Elizabeth Park.
At the beginning of the month, Sarah Holbrook was spotted cutting Hellebore flowers from the park by a police constable walking to work.
Police records state she also cut budding magnolia branches and flowers from three daphne bushes.
Later that morning, police stopped Holbrook in her vehicle and found branches and flowers inside valued at $168.
A council assessment of the damage to gardens said over 100 hellebores were decimated, and varying other species were ruined or missing too, resulting in over $4000 worth of damage.
As an explanation, Holbrook said she “went and picked some flowers this morning and went home and put them in a vase”.
In court, Judge Barbara Morris said that while there was a view that plants were being taken from the park for commercial gain, it was clear that Holbrook was not taking the plants for resale.
“You are obviously someone who loves flowers, and many people are like that,” Morris said.
“If this were a commercial operation, it would be dealt with very differently.”
Morris said the MDC gardener treasured the plants and was “extremely upset” to see the theft take place.
She said public parks are places that prove beneficial to everyone,e and that plants and flowers have healing properties for people.
“If people took these flowers in the way that you have today – and I am told that you have done this in the past – there would be nothing left for anybody to enjoy.”
Taking into account some personal extenuating circumstances, Morris ordered that Holbrook pay $1000 to MDC in reparation costs.
An MDC spokesperson said that the council hasn’t received this payment to date.