The Landscape Gardener by Stacey George

The day started out like any normal day.
Then the phone rang and Norman picked it up and said “Hello, Goodbye to Weeds
Landscapes. How can I help you?”
“I need a gardener as soon as possible” Norman thought he heard the sound of weeping
on the other end of the phone but he could not be sure.
“I can come and have a look and give you a price this afternoon” he said kindly as she
sounded elderly and a bit distressed too.
“Oh thank you so much. I have guests coming and my garden is in such a state”
For the rest of the morning as Norman went about his work the sound of the woman’s
voice circled around in his head
He turned into the street which the lady had given him and he did not need to look for the
number as the house stood out like a sore thumb. There were no garden gates – either
front nor back – and the gardening bin had blown over onto its side in the wind and the
garden was a wilderness of weeds.
“Oh God” he thought and he wondered what he had let himself in for.
He knocked on the front door and prayed that the porch would not collapse in the process.
A few moments later a small petite little woman answered and said in a very quiet voice
“You must be Norman. Thank you for coming at such short notice. I know this wont be
cheap to put right”
” I do a 10% discount for pensioners” he said kindly. He felt so sorry for the lady as he
could tell that she could not cope with such a large garden and the inside of the house
looked to be in an even worse state from what he could see.
“Oh I am not a pensioner yet. The Government raised the Retirement Age for ladies so I
have a while to wait yet”.
Norman scratched his head and thought for a few moments and then said “Dont worry. I
will sort something out. I will bring another man with me and together we will have this
looking so beautiful it would win a prize at the Chelsea Flower Show” he laughed.
The lady began to laugh too and she started to relax a bit.
“Would you like a cup of tea Norman”
“That’s very kind of you. I am parched. It’s hard work gardening in this heat
“Oh my name is Miss Black but you can call me Jasmine. When I was young I used to get
Jas but now people are starting to call me Minnie. I don’t like that as it makes me feel so
old. I suppose I am old though” and she gave a big sigh.
“Your not old. Just a young girl. I would ask you out on a date and I mean that too”
“That’s very sweet of you to say that Norman but I never go out on dates. I have lived here
alone since my mother died. I am quite happy being single. You do need a man though to
change light bulbs and mend fuses. I just borrow one of my neighbours for that” she said.
Norman left her some brochures with pictures of gravel as he said that would be the
cheapest and the quickest thing to do and as he had taken a cancellation he and his friend
Freddie could make an immediate start with it. He also suggested some new fencing and a
couple of new gates.
First thing the next morning Norman and Freddie pulled up in their truck with spades and
hoes and every garden tool needed and began the almost impossible task of making
Jasmine’s garden nice again.
Jasmine had been up half the night looking at the brochures which Norman had left her
and she had decided on a golden gravel which reminded her of a golden sandy beach.
She was starting to become very excited and was getting carried away with a lot of ideas
of her own.
By lunchtime they had removed a lot of the weeds and Jasmine asked if they would like a
sandwich and a cup of tea.
“That would be lovely Jas” said Norman and Freddie nodded in agreement.
“I’ve got peanut butter or cheese and beetroot. Which would you prefer?” she said.
They both asked for cheese and beetroot and Jasmine began making the sandwiches in
her little kitchen.
After a short rest they began working again and prepared the ground for to put the gravel
down the following day. It was beginning to take shape at last and it was nice to see it
looking like a garden again.
Jasmine was already daydreaming of sitting out in the summer and spending her
afternoons with a good book which she intended to purchase from her favourite Book
The gravel was at last put down, the fence and gates put up and all that was needed now
was a few tubs for some pretty colourful plants to go in.
“Oh Norman. You have made it look so beautiful. I can never thank you enough – and you
Freddie. Alan Titchmarsh himself couldn’t have made a better job of it”.
“I will send you an Invoice at the end of the month” said Norman
They were about to leave and Freddie was already in the truck when Norman came back
down the path looking slightly nervous
“Did you forget something” said Jasmine.
“No. I was wondering if you would consider having dinner with me some evening Jas. I
shall miss our chats and I have become very fond of you. There would be no strings
attached – I promise”
Jasmine was taken aback and thought for a moment and then said “Well there is a new
Fish and Chip Shop which has recently opened at the coast I would love to go and try it I
have heard it is very nice and that the chips are delicious. They do vegetarian food as well
I believe”
“So we have a date then?” replied Norman
“Well fish and chips at the coast cant hurt – can it?” said Jasmine.
“Of course not – and we both have to eat so we might as well enjoy each others company. I
will pick you up at 7 on Saturday” said Norman His face was beaming.
Jasmine was a little nervous and wondered if she had done the right thing. She looked
through her clothes and managed to find a suitable outfit and she spent an eternity getting
ready. She popped her mobile phone into her bag and the numbers of neighbours and
relatives she could call if she needed help. Her friend the Vicar also lived quite close by.
Norman looked like a different man out of his working clothes and they got the bus to the
coast as parking a car could be a nightmare – especially in the middle of the summer. It
had been a good summer this year which was unusual for England and many people had
stayed at home instead of going abroad.
Norman began to often call for a cup of tea and a chat if he had a gardening job in the
area and they found that they had much in common – mainly their love of the Church as
they were both Catholics.
It turned out that Norman was also very lonely and he lived alone. Both of his parents were
dead and once his day’s work was finished he was alone and simply needed some
Jasmine had often thought of taking in a lodger but she really did not have a spare room.
There was her mother’s room but that had never been used since the ambulance men had
come to take her mother to the hospital – and that’s the way she intended for it to stay too.
However she did have a garage at the bottom of the garden. It could better be described
as half a garage as most of the roof was now missing and the guttering had also fallen off
It could easily be cleared out and then demolished and a nice modern caravan could stand
in its place She broached the subject with Norman and never thought he would seriously
consider it. She was so wrong there.
“Oh Jas. You are my Guardian Angel. I have been having problems with the stairs in my
house. My legs ache and I could do with something which is all on the flat” he said.
Norman had a friend who was a builder and the garage was soon demolished and a nice
modern caravan with all mod cons put in its place.
Jasmine now knows she has a man to change light bulbs and mend fuses and has found a
nice man to be a friend. They go to Mass together every Sunday and have the occasional
trip out.
Jasmine no longer dreads a lonely old age and is so grateful that she picked up the phone
that day and called “Goodbye to Weeds Landscapes”
Happy endings are indeed possible.


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