An Odd Stop on the Garden Tour

Shauna moved to a new neighborhood in the spring. Well, it was new to her, but it wasn’t really new at all.   Actually, it was an older neighborhood.   It was the type of neighborhood where the houses all looked different from each other, and had tall, old trees that looked like they’d been growing there for decades.

But the gardens were the real stars of the neighborhood. Hyacinths and daffodils and tulips danced in rings around flowering cherry trees. Tulip trees bloomed in fluffy sunset-colored clouds above daisies sprinkled like stars in lush green grass. Lilacs scented the air a block away.

And so, when she saw a flyer at the grocery store for a local garden tour, she jotted down the information. Two weeks later, she looked up the address again and joined the group in front of a small yellow house a few streets away.

The tour was amazing. They walked between the houses together, and at each house, the owner was happy to show the group around their little piece of paradise. Shauna gave up taking notes when she realized that she wanted to copy all of the gardens at once and had no idea how to do that.

After the first four amazing gardens, the group leader announced the next stop. The group groaned. “Why are we visiting Gus again?” someone asked.

“He signed up,” the tour guide said. “Come on, it won’t take long. It never does.”

Several people grumbled, but they all followed their guide around the corner and down the street to a dead end. The road ended next to a gloomy blue house with flaking paint. The wooden fence around the yard leaned in place, propped up by boards from the other side.

The gate creaked open, and tall, pale man leaned around the edge and squinted at them. “Are you here for the garden tour?” he asked.

“No!” someone yelled from the back of the group.

“I knew it!” The man started to disappear behind the gate.

“No, wait,” the guide said. The man paused. The guide laughed. “I’m sure she was just joking. Of course we’re here to see your garden. What did you grow this year, Gus?”

“I decided for a traditional approach this year,” Gus said. He swung the gate open wide. It creaked and then crashed as it fell off its hinges.   “Oops. Here, I’ll just push that out of the way.” He shoved the slumping gate over, and it fell against the house with a thump. “Come in, come in.”

Cautiously, the group picked their way through a tangle of weeds and piles of branches and dead leaves. “Is this the garden?” the guide asked.

“Of course not,” Gus said. “Follow me.   It’s just past the patio.”

“Isn’t that the shady part of your yard?” the guide asked. “What are you growing?”

“You’ll see. Or maybe you won’t.”

They followed their leader over a brick patio with dandelions growing up through the spaces between the bricks. Between two mossy old oak trees, there was a bare patch of ground hidden in shadow. Gus stopped and waved his arms towards the dirt. “There it is,” he said. “My garden.”

“But Gus, there’s nothing there,” the guide said. “I thought you said you had a traditional garden this year.”

“I did,” Gus said. “I planted my worries in my garden. I carefully tended them. I fed them with all my doubts and fears. I dug through statistics and pored over related anecdotes. But nothing came of it. My worries produced nothing at all.”

“I’m not sure whether to console you or to congratulate you,” the guide said.

“I’m a bit conflicted about it myself,” Gus said. “But I think that’s rather traditional when planting worries.”

“Well, thank you for the tour,” the guide said. “We’re off to the next house.”

“Oh is that the one with all the lawn gnomes and the pink dogwoods?” Gus asked. “I’ll come too.”

Shauna wasn’t sure what to think about Gus and his garden. However, she was fairly certain that this was one garden she didn’t want to copy at all.