Thieves steal widow's 40-year-old bougainvillea
ONE of Gympie's most adored plants was heartlessly ripped from its pot and dragged away into the night in a brazen and bizarre theft on the weekend.
The 40-year-old bougainvillea was a permanent fixture in Eileen Hewitt's front garden at Parsons Rd, where she tenderly cared for it for decades with her late husband Clyde who passed away three years ago.
Prickly, huge and covered in a mass of pink flowers, the bougainvillea was an unlikely target.
But on Saturday morning the 89-year-old discovered the empty huge pot and a trail of dirt leading over the fence up towards Garrick St.
"It was just so disappointing to see someone would do that," Eileen said.
"I don't know what to make of it. It was there when my husband was alive - we really loved the garden."
Daughter-in-law Ann Hewitt said the ever-blossoming tree was not only part of the family's history, but had brightened the day of people passing by over decades.
"It was a labour of love - it was a shared thing for the community," Ann said.
"Anyone that drives or walks past can't help but notice the garden - we've had lots of lovely comments over the years.
"(It) was really magnificent - it has just left a really big hole in the garden."
The real shame, Ann said, was how generous her mother-in-law, the victim was - often donating her time to the community and giving cuttings and blossoms away to other keen gardeners.
Eileen said she was not expecting to get the plant back, and she would never live long enough to see another flourish like the one that was stolen.
It was the second reported garden theft from the weekend after more than $6000 worth of bonsai trees were taken from a Gympie business.
The family is alerting the community in the hope the culprits will be caught, and would-be thieves deterred.
"It creates unhappiness for people - we don't need that - we need a lot of positive," Ann said.
Gympie police could not be contacted for comment.