I hope that you have your gardening gloves ready to help Hedges with her own, very bare, garden.
As always, please excuse the typos.
Episode 54: Nice and Palm
Hedges did love her gardening and she did love her extendable hedge trimmer with various attachments. In fact, she had a collection of both powered and manual tools that she had collected as a treat to herself over the years.
Bumblethorpe was full of gardens all cared for by her… and some still cared for by Trevor but she was ignoring them… and she loved to glance at the gardens as she drove by. The only garden in Bumblethorpe she didn’t feel so delighted with—Trevor’s messy work aside—was her own.
She parked up in her drive and cast a sad glance at the dry, cracked soil, the empty mounds of dirt that she’d tried to turn into a flowerbed and a pond with no water in it. She sighed, let Billington out who charged into the house, walked over and prodded at the soil with her finger. When she’d married Mr Hedges, he’d bought a house on the outskirts of town to show her he could be trusted with important aspects of their marriage. Only, he’d bought the house off Ricky’s dad who had been a lot like Ricky and without the intelligence of his mother, one of Agnes’ younger sisters.
Hedges, being stunned by how unwise Mr Hedges was, moved into the old ironwork factory, and earlier chemical works, in spite of her parents telling her to rethink the marriage completely and come home. Thankfully, she had taken over the shop when her mother retired so she had a lovely garden there but…
She prodded the dirt again. Even with digging up the concrete, laying subsoil and top soil, the ground was so damaged by the old chemicals that she couldn’t get anything to grow.
‘Honey,’ Mary-Lou said from the driveway. ‘You look kinda down.’
Hedges nodded, eyes still on the unworkable dirt. ‘I’d like a garden. I’d like nice exotic plants, a water feature, and… well… not crumbled cement, rubble and dirt that won’t even grow weeds.’
‘Exotic… hmm…’ Mary-Lou whistled and Billington raced out of the house and jumped up at her, tail wagging. She chuckled and fussed over him. ‘I wasn’t whistling for you, but great recall.’
Two large trucks pulled into view and several cars with the class crammed into them. George fell out of Diane’s car with a grunt; Lanie cycled up on her bicycle; Miriam, Ceri and Janis along with the girls jumped out of Ceri’s car;
‘We having class here?’ Hedges mumbled and glanced at her garden. ‘I’m not sure it’s very safe to dance on.’
‘Your dad didn’t build this place very well,’ Tammy said to Ricky as she clambered out of his truck, Colin and Tracy doing the same.
‘His dad couldn’t build anything,’ Tracy said with a shake of her head. ‘He got stuck trying to build a flatpack.’
Ricky hauled thick clumps of wood off the truck with Colin. ‘Don’t look at me, I know he can’t build nothing.’ He nodded to Colin. ‘He was better at stripping buildings, right?’
Colin grinned and tapped the wood. ‘Handed down that talent too.’
Ricky smirked. ‘But I know how to build a flatpack.’
Tracy eyed him. ‘Since when?’
‘Since I known you,’ Ricky said and carried the wood with Colin over onto the pavement.
‘I have to build them,’ Tracy said and hit him with her gardening gloves. ‘You never help.’
Ricky shrugged. ‘I build them… but you do it faster and follow instructions.’ He winked at Tammy. ‘And I like her when she’s got tools in her hand.’
Tracy pursed her lips, hit him again, then tutted like she wasn’t pleased.
Hedges cuddled Billington, not sure why half of Bumblethorpe was unloading supplies onto the pavement. ‘I… I can’t hide stolen goods. I can barely fit the family in my house.’
Mary-Lou gave her a squeeze. ‘Honey, Barney was in talks with Mr Hedges. He knows how much you want a garden and, as you and Mr Hedges helped out Barney…’ She beamed and patted Billington. ‘…Barney wanted to help him cheer you up.’
‘Mr Hedges wanted to cheer me up?’ Hedges raised her eyebrows. ‘That’s a new one.’
‘Work with it, honey. Barney knows how to get a guy being more attentive.’ She fussed with her hair. ‘But he’s still not wearing pink lycra.’
‘Where can I set up?’ Agnes asked as Andy carried a large tea-barrel out from the back of his truck.
‘I’m setting out the food here,’ Ceri said as Janis hauled tables out of her car and unfolded them. ‘We can have a nice gazebo over the top.’
Agnes ‘ooh’d’ and wandered over, inspecting the ground. ‘I remember this place when it was a storage yard.’ She sniffed the air. ‘It smells much better now.’
Hedges hugged Mary-Lou and Billington for support. ‘Depends on the weather.’
‘That could do with filling,’ Lanie mumbled as she inspected a pot being unloaded from one of the large trucks by Stan.
‘George loaded it,’ Stan said with a roll of his eyes.
Miriam pulled out her tool bag. ‘Fillings are my speciality. I’ll take that.’
Lanie smiled and directed Stan over to where Diane and Gaynor were setting up some kind of tent.
Hedges looked at Mary-Lou for explanation.
‘Repairs,’ Mary-Lou said with a chuckle. ‘George is helping.’
Hedges smiled then waved at him as he stumbled over the wood Ricky had placed down as he waved back.
Glynnis marched up the road with her husband carrying a large box of plants as Paulette got out of the second large truck. She unloaded some kind of small crane and started hoisting bags of sand onto the pavement from the truck.
‘I never knew Paulette could drive one of those.’ Hedges waved to Little Agnes and Little Liza who were sat with the older Liza in the cab.
Andy grinned. ‘She fancied it one day when I was using one so I sent her on a course.’ He beamed then fanned himself as Paulette focused on her sand lifting. ‘My dad thinks she’s better than he is and he’s been driving them for years.’
‘Why does a roofer need one of them then?’ Colin asked like he wanted to borrow the crane… for an extended period.
‘We use palette ones too and a variety of machines,’ Andy said with a proud smile at Paulette who grimaced as she steered the sandbags over Ricky. ‘Mostly because Dad doesn’t like paying for deliveries… and he likes collecting tiles…’ He wagged his finger. ‘And we like our tiles and machines and so does Paulette.’
Ricky winced and darted as he spotted the sandbag. ‘Don’t fancy her coming at me with a plimsole again.’
Tracy snorted and sprayed a palm tree as Tammy carried it past. ‘I might use that when I want you to build the flatpack.’
Ricky narrowed his eyes. ‘You might be fit but I can still pretend I’m mad at you.’
Tracy pecked him on the cheek then sprayed him. ‘You like me too much to be mad at me.’
He sighed. ‘You’re right.’
Gaynor eyed the lose strands of grass dangling from one plant and hurried over. She narrowed her eyes, then platted them. ‘There.’
Diane stepped off a step-ladder and chuckled to Ceri’s girls who were unloading little plants from Glynnis. ‘I guess she didn’t use a clippers.’
Mary-Lou nodded. ‘I haven’t seen a platted palm before. It kinda works.’
Hedges sniffed. ‘It’s beautiful.’
Billington pounced her to the ground and licked her face.
Ricky and Colin grabbed shovels with Stan and George and they started shovelling sand and chippings as Janis and the girls rolled out the membrane and the girls stomped on it to flatten the edges. Andy built a wall using stone as Miriam filled it in with cement; Tammy and Tracy put the wood inside it and Stan drilled it together to make a box. Glynnis tucked in membrane and fed a hose through to Janis who laid it underneath the membrane to the side. George fell over his shovel into the box so Diane took a shovel with Gaynor to put sand down over the membrane. Paulette unloaded large palm trees as Mr Hedges, Barney and Glynnis’ husband attempted to dig holes for them.
‘They won’t take in the ground,’ Hedges mumbled and tried to hoist Billington off her but he placed his head on her shoulder.
‘We got that, honey,’ Mary-Lou said with a chuckle and nodded to Ricky and Colin who dragged more wood over and Tracy fitted the box together in the ground.
The girls and Janis fitted the membrane and while Gaynor platted the girls hair.
Lanie unloaded rolls of turf from the truck and Miriam stitched them together as the girls and Ceri marched over them to smooth them down. Andy switched on the water, Billington sniffed the air, then left Hedges and jumped into the stone effect pond with a bark.
‘At least it’s not muddy,’ Hedges mumbled as she dusted herself off.
The turf was laid, more wood laid for planting beds, the pond was filled and Andy put in a nice fountain in the shape of a dog who squirted water from his mouth. The palm trees were planted, Glynnis’ selection of Hedges favourite flowers were bedded in and George fell over a lot.
Hedges stared at Mr Hedges in shock as he brushed off his hands with a gentle smile on his face. ‘You always wanted a peaceful, pretty garden,’ he said then shrugged. ‘Hedges Junior would have helped… both of them… but school and work… you know…’ He waved at the palm trees. ‘Thought we needed to make sure Mary-Lou’s touch was included.’
Mary-Lou nodded. ‘All the way from Florida.’
Hedges hugged Mary-Lou, then each classmate then kissed Mr Hedges on the cheek and tried not to look at Billington splashing in the pond. ‘Thank you… I… thank you.’
Mary-Lou smiled up at Barney as he wrapped his arm around her waist. ‘Thank him, the guys were the ones who discussed it.’
Agnes’ kettle whistled and everyone hurried over for tea and Ceri’s buffet but Hedges stayed in the garden and patted the palm tree beside her. It was such a beautiful garden.
‘You like it?’ Mary-Lou asked from around her coffee.
‘I… it’s… just beautiful…’ Hedges sniffed then sighed as Billington charged over, pounced her to the floor and licked her. She groaned under the soaking wet fur then smiled. ‘It’s peaceful… yes… it’s nice and palm.’