FOR NEARLY 200 years, from the time of William Penn and thereafter, Philadelphia was a leader led in horticulture.

But today, we can say that, in Philadelphia, in some situations, when it comes to horticulture, the public is sometimes shameless.

In front of our Cinderella Garden at Southwark School, dog poop is routinely deposited. Plants have been stolen. Yes, at a children's garden created to inspire children and adults alike, plants are stolen.

And, it's not uncommon to find beer cans and other trash tossed into the garden. We've even seen a mother have her child pick the flowers for her own use. And another adult, just for fun, picking flowers and just throwing them to the ground. New trees at Southwark planted just weeks ago are now covered with dog doo, too.

Across the street at Bok High School, the grassy areas (or should I say "weedy" fenced areas) are used as a doggy poop park. How disrespectful of education and the students - how unhealthy! We've also found that the quickest way to get rid of the dog-poopers' owners is to suggest they work with our organization on a dog run or dog park for the neighborhood. They never show up again.

At our English-style house garden created in conjunction with the Jokers Mummers club at 2nd and Tasker, the fence has been destroyed by people breaking in to have drinking parties, leaving beer bottles behind. Beds with plant material are stomped down - and we recently found a mutilated cat's tail in one of the beds.

At our office at 9th and Sigel, those exiting their cars step on plants it's taken a year to grow. In one selfish instance, our work is destroyed. The time has come for city legislation, with bite, to foster in a new era where "green" in this city is once again treasured.

Faye Deckter

Historic City Gardens, Philadelphia