Shady Hollow Garden Club – Camilla Lee

This comment brings knowing smiles and more nods.

“I came from a house with a big flower garden. Too big for me to manage on my own. My late husband did the heavy work with mulch bags and so forth. I also grew vegetables. Often I had tomatoes coming out of my ears, too many. I was drowning in them.”

Laughter. The tomato situation strikes a chord. This is going to be alright.

Ethel Ballinger quickly introduces the others: “Irma, Lauren, Poppy, Hannah, Betty, David.” She continues: “David is also a newcomer. From San Francisco. Is that correct?”

“That’s right, but I’ve returned to my roots. So to speak.”

(It’s unlikely I am going to remember a single name, nor do I plan to. Except for David).

He continues: “When I retired from my law practice I decided to move back east, to be closer to my children and grandchildren. We all agreed it would be good to tuck me into a safe place. It’s worked out well. I enjoyed my “trial” garden club meeting last month.”

“We’re very happy to have you. Oh,” Ethel continues. “That talented lady across the room is Marianne. She is Shady Hollow’s crafts-woman extraordinaire. Marianne created those beautiful decoupage lamps in the library. The black ones with the peonies.” At the mention of her name, Marianne looks up and smiles. In spite of the silver hair and messy bun, her face is quite youthful, by Shady Hollow standards. Her smile is “put-on” and insincere.

On the agenda today, under “old business,” the lobby flower arrangement is listed. “I’ve looked into other florists; the best price I could get is $50.00 a week,” Ethel says. My thought is, good god, that carnation thing costs $50.00? My mind goes to the flowering bushes that are now in bloom on the property. And what used to be an ancient lilac grove that’s probably been around since the site was a grand estate. The bushes have heavy blossoms that need cutting. And there are rhododendrons all over the place. The iris and peonies will be up next. Before I know it, these words are coming out of my mouth:

“Have you considered using flowers in bloom on the building’s grounds? We could create our own arrangements. There’s a sink here. We could turn this into a flower-arranging room.”

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  1. Barbara Crouchley says:

    Camilla’s quiet humor and her observant eye make all these characters real and familiar. And her simple sentences laced with such wit ( between the isobars my mind also wanders). Love reading her short stories. Thank you for publishing this….. I’ll see you there but not in the garden club!

  2. isabel Goff says:

    Loved the story Camilla. Thanks. Izzy

  3. Sarah Lee says:

    Great short story! Love the setting and characters. They were all very well developed. I could smell the lilacs!

  4. Freya says:

    Brilliant! Perfect! Spot on! More!

  5. Perfect!! LEE’s timing is spot on. She never lingers too long nor hammers hard on the surprises. Didn’t want the story to end…more PLEASE from this gifted, wry, insightful writer!

  6. MaryEthel Stack says:

    I can hear your voice, Camilla. Glad you can write so positively about community living. Hope you are going to stay in your big, old house. Enjoyed this story.

  7. Judy Taft says:

    Wonderful story by Camilla Lee. She has a seemingly effortless style, a slightly wicked sense of humor, and spot on-observations about people, in this case, the inhabitants of a retirement home.Would love to read more of her work!

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