Cracked, hard earth in outside hyacinth pot
Apologies in advance for what will probably be a somewhat odd first post!
My mother has some hyacinths in her back garden, which are planted in a metal bucket. Yesterday all seemed normal and she spotted a sprout coming through. This morning the soil is cracked - she describes it as the sort of cracking that you get in very hot temperatures - and it's impervious to a sharp knife.
She is a keen gardener with considerably more than my zero experience, and she is unaware of any natural explanation for this phenomenon (including frost, which I offered as a possible explanation). She's also having some problems with a neighbour (plants uprooted, missing pots, etc) and suspects that the hyacinth issue may be the result of some sort of tampering by this neighbour.
So, my questions are:
1) Are there any plausible natural explanations for the conditions that she describes?
2) If not, is there a sensible route of further investigation? For obvious reasons I doubt that the national crime lab is going to put this at the top of its priorities, but she's willing to pay someone to take a proper look if there's an organisation offering that sort of service.
I realise that all of this sounds rather strange, but she's elderly and living on her own 200 miles away from me, and if this is a campaign of petty harassment rather a series of coincidences, she'd like to know so that she can do something about it.