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This week, we continue our garden show saga. This is the third of four parts (it was going to be three but the story just kept growing) and the town’s gardeners are making the final touches to their botanical artistry while keeping an eye on their competition.
Holding her favorite clippers, Ruth backed up slowly so that she could judge the impact of her assault on her hedge of Magic Carpet spirea. Many of its cotton candy-colored blooms had gone by and she wanted to make sure only the brightest ones were on display tomorrow morning when the judges arrived. For the first time in many years, winning the best-in-show trophy at the Carding Home and Garden Show was important.
She darted forward and SNIP went another dead blossom. Then SNIP SNIP and two more fell into her weed bucket.
There, as perfect as it was gonna get.
She glanced at the sky though it didn’t look any different than it had ten minutes ago. Blue from horizon to horizon. After such a drippy start to the summer, the idea of watering her flowers seemed rather strange. She snapped off her gardening glove so she could slip a bare finger under the mulch to check the soil moisture. An earthworm glistened by, his morning repose interrupted by her probing.
“Sorry,” Ruth muttered as she hastened to cover him up. “Sorry.” Then she sighed. Who was she kidding. Even though her yard was a riot of color—pink spirea, yellow evening primrose, white valerian and elderberries, and red bee balm—no one would ever mistake the mistake of describing the Goodwin garden as organized.
Ruth loved everything about the botanical world…except maybe poison ivy. But she loved to live in it, not dominate it.
“Oh well,” she said as she tossed her tools in their bucket. “Either Edie or Agnes will win and that’s all right.”
A car rolled by slowly just as Ruth closed her front door behind her. A second cup of tea was definitely in order.
From inside the car, G.G. Dieppe scanned Ruth’s yard. True, there was a lot in bloom. And true, it did look very pretty…but only from a distance. Even from the road, G.G. spotted some weediness along the edges of a circular raised bed.
“Hmph, no one’s going to find any weeds in my gardens,” she sniffed to herself. “They are perfect. The best that money can buy.”
Ruth watched through the lace curtains on her front windows as G.G. drove on.
“She just left,” she texted Agnes. “Probably headed your way.”
It took a few years but Agnes Findley had finally turned Charlie Cooper’s scruffy yard into a virtual Eden. The blue and purple blooms of spring had given way to the red of the climbing roses that sheltered the sunny end of their screened-in porch. Her hosta hedge, each plant placed so that its leaves complimented the plants on either side, was at the height of perfection.
Her collection of colorful pots added height and wonder to the landscape, and the hens and chicks lining the walkway to their front door had just started to share their peach-colored flowers.
They were Agnes’s specialty.
“Do you think I should stand out in the front yard to wave?” she asked Charlie as they stood behind a short hedge of limelight hydrangea that divided their front yard from the back.
Charlie nearly choked up his coffee. “I thought the idea was to be stealthy about your spying ways,” he said.
“Oh, I know. It’s just that I find that woman so irritating,” Agnes said, tapping her foot.
“And you don’t want her to win,” Charlie said.
“Yeah, that too.” They watched G.G. crawl by their house, her neck extended to its full length. “Gawd, how nosy can she be? Ah, there she goes. She must have found some imperfection. Well, so be it. At least maybe Edie or Ruth will win, and that’s fine.”
“You’d better text Edie,” Charlie said, trying to mask his grin. He couldn’t remember when he’d enjoyed a competition more. Who knew that watching gardeners could be so entertaining?
By the way, the quote I used as the title for this Chronicle is from a song by Bob Dylan. Here’s the whole verse.
“May your hands always be busy,
May your feet always be swift,
May you have a strong foundation,
When the winds of changes shift.”
—Bob Dylan, “Forever Young” on the album Planet Waves