It was the last day of May and a beautiful morning for The Shade House kick-off. The skies were powder blue with light fluffy clouds and a beautiful sunny greeting. Wendy arrived at the nursery at eight o’clock. The nursery opened at ten and closed at five.
Once out of the car, Wendy went to the entrance and stood back. The cocoa painted sign with wooden ivy above and around the door was the right image. She opened the door, turned on the lights and waterfall, and continued to her office where she put her purse and her packed lunch on the desk. She went around to the front of the counter, staring at the wonderful new roof as she pressed the button to open the lattice covering to let the low morning sunshine down on the plants. With an enormous grin she shouted up, “Thanks mom and dad.” She stood still and let her eyes wander as she cherished the length and breadth of her wondrous accomplishment.
Carol came in dressed in stonewashed jeans and a long-sleeved dark navy tee shirt. Wendy dressed in dark blue jeans and a plaid flannel shirt. Good comfort for the day. The two of them set up a table near the front door with lemonade, cheese and crackers. Wendy turned on a radio station where soft instrumental music played. There were two speakers, one near the front and one toward the rear.
“When the people start to come in just walk around and see if anyone has questions or needs help. But move away to give them space if they don’t seem interested.” “Okay.”
At five minutes after ten the first customers came in, two women.
“Good morning,” Wendy greeted.
“Mornin’ to you,” one of the women responded looking around. “Very nice place.”
“Thank you. Feel free to help yourself to the lemonade and treats.”
“Thanks, we’ll take a walk first.”
“Let me know if you have any questions.” They nodded and moved away.
Wendy needed to stay near the door for a while to welcome everyone. Carol moved around to help where she could. The next time the door opened Wendy turned to see six people come in. Wendy offered the refreshments. A few took a glass of lemonade and they soon split up and started to explore.
Mary Ann and Judy came to see the finished product. As they approached Wendy, Mary Ann said, “It looks great Wendy.” Judy agreed.
“Thanks. I owe a lot of it to you two. Did you know Carol’s working here?”
“She mentioned it and that’s good,” Judy commented, and Mary Ann nodded. They wandered off.
Wendy watched as customers stopped to admire a plant or check the plant label to see the name. A woman in a bright pink dress came to the counter carrying a Chinese evergreen plant. She had already put a couple of other plants on the floor near the counter. Her friend clutched an orchid to her bosom.
“Are you interested in different containers for your plants? We repot them for free.”
“Let’s see,” the woman said as she tilted her straw hat sideways. “This one is a gift, so maybe a decorative pot is a good idea.”
Wendy showed the woman and her friend the pots in the alcove near the potting bench. Wendy stepped back so they could examine all of them and returned to the register where she waited.
“That’s a wonderful choice,” Wendy complimented as she held up the straw hat woman’s choice, a light gold terra cotta pot. The other woman didn’t want a new pot for her orchid. Wendy potted up the Chinese Evergreen. She scattered small wooden bark on top to give it a finished look and wiped some clinging dirt from the sides, handing it to the woman. Other plants they bought Wendy placed into paper potholders to protect them. They paid for their purchases and thanked Wendy. “I love this place,” the orchid woman said, as they turned to leave.” Thank you,” Wendy handed them each a business card in case there were any questions about their plants. “Thanks, we’ll be back.” The women left. Their words were encouraging. Wendy made a note to create a list of all the plants with their care.
As soon as the women made their exit, her cousin Jake came toward her. He was a burly, short bald man whose expression read happiness. She went straight to him and gave him a big hug, he gladly returned. He pulled back and looked at her.
“You look wonderful sweetheart. You’ve lost a lot of weight.”
“Thanks, I’ve been working on it.”
“It’s good. He turned to see the depth of the nursery. This place is fantastic. It’s huge. I had no idea it would be so big, and I love it. You’ve really created a place of solace here.”
“Thanks, sounds nice. Want to walk around with me?”
They ambled for a few minutes until Jake stopped and walked into a bark path inside the main walkway. He ducked his head as he came out next to a short tree.
“I’m speechless. Really Wendy, you’ve done a superb job with the design. I love the paths and there’s such a great variety of plants. I don’t recognize most of them.”
“Thanks again, Jake.” “Let me show you my favorite spot, well, one of my favorites.”
They went to the forest end. “I loved the lushness of greenery, so I designed this end to look like a forest, well as close as I could come inside a building without tall trees.”
Her cousin glanced around and nodded. “Amazing, I don’t know what else to say, just an amazing job. Great atmosphere. I’m so proud of you.”
“I really appreciate hearing that
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