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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.


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 81,441

    Could it just be the hyacinth plant pushing its way up through the soil and cracking the dry surface as it does so?

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • Thanks for your reply!  Mum's pretty good at watering plants appropriately and I think she'd recognise it if it was a case of soil changes due to sprouting activity.  I'm a bit mystified by the apparent hardness of the soil - if we rule out under-watering and frost, are there any other plausible theories?

  • There is no visible frost on my grass this morning, though the pond is iced over and the ground is rock hard. Without rainfall and with low temperatures, the air holds little moisture, so even the car has only light frosting on the windscreen. Could this be why your mum thought it hadn't been frosty?

    Plants being uprooted could be birds or animals, and missing pots could be foxes playing and hiding them - unless they were very heavy or large, or even just a freak gust of wind.

    Last year there was a convection current like a mini tornado at the back of my house , which removed a solid stone 'slate' from my roof, blew over a bench and a wooden table top that was leaning against the back wall and yet didn't touch  some empty plastic plant pots a foot or two away!

  • Thank you Buttercupdays!  I will put the frost idea to her again and see what she thinks.

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