In a small English village, the town is in preparation for the upcoming garden competition. In midlife, pursuing detective tendencies, whose vocational skills expounded to those of professional gardener as a plausible cover. We specialized in concoctions for weed removal, fertilizer that promotes healthy and hearty growth. At times we joined one another on vacation to famous botanical gardens. Our first business call this spring season came as we were counting inventory in the office, “Stewards of the Garden". The English estate named “Laurel Inn" was this season’s first assignment. We eagerly looked forward to the excitement and enthusiasm surrounding the judging of the most beautiful and well maintained gardens. Entertaining held in the garden for intimate afternoon teas or extravagant wedding receptions.
Early in the morning, we met Mr. Judd at the crossroads unloading the mulch he sold as supplemental income. His employer, Mr. Weston displayed the trophy he won last year in the picture window of his home. He told us this inspired him while he was working in his garden. He also spoke with us about his wife given a theatre ticket by a secret admirer in New York, to see the production of “ LION KING “. She took a flight and was not available to speak to us about the contaminated gardens of all the competitors except their own garden. This garden had no tree bark mulch on it as fertilizer.
As we were clearing debris from a recent summer storm, Rosemary remarked how vividly lovely the section of butterfly bushes were looking. The tiger swallowtails lit among the branches adding splashes of yellow and black to the fragrant purple blooms. Closer to the eastern gate of the garden, we approached tiny hummingbirds in hues of green and blue. With our attention drawn to this magnificent vision it was quite startling when I looked down beneath the shrubs to see a boot. The gardeners assistant had a bright, red scratch to indicate the death occurred less than an hour before. We had spoken to him as he returned from selling tree bark mulch in the village.
Corruption invaded the garden competition, going so far as to include participants bribing judges when possible. On occasion dreadful, unexpected accidents taking out scheduled judges and the need for replacements postponing the judgment day. This year sabotage among a list of competitors might flush out the villainous saboteur. Mr. Walter Carter, at the licensing office for the event also published brochures for tourist attractions in the guise of grand estate and castle tours. Often, Carter has been described as a walking dictionary and he relished a bit of local town gossip as well.
By the time the coroner had removed Mr. Judd from the premises , our appetites reminded us we were famished. We went to a pleasant English pub that specializes in fish and chips. Mary Morris, a new neighbor to the Linwood Village of less than a year quickly befriended herself to Mr. Weston, asked if we might have time to look at her sick plants. Rosemary and I agreed to have a look the next day.
The next day brought rain so after a short walk in the Morris garden, we all retreated inside the stone house. I went alone while Rosemary was still at the greenhouse awaiting some of the bedding plants we had on order. Mary invited me in, explaining that so many of the plants in the garden had been tended by the previous owner. She didn’t feel as if it was quite fair to enter the competition not having planned, nurtured, and tended the garden herself. The calla lilies had been failing of late. Rosemary knocked on the door and entered apologizing profusely for the delay. Moments later Rosemary commented on the plant on the desk close to where she was sitting. Mary identified the plant as “ Dragon’s Tongue “ and how it originated in South Africa. Unusually quiet for Rosemary, she gave me a slight nod and spoke no more about it.
The following morning we returned to Mr. Weston’s estate, he was in charge of so many activities and events in the small English village. Speaking to him on the phone, he urged us to come visit. The occasion being we both would have an opportunity to meet his wife. Sirens herald their arrival as if chaperoning us to our destination. His wife was out on the lawn and so was Mr. Weston, although he was lying down with a white sheet over his body. Nellie Weston introduced herself to us requesting that we find the killer. Detectives investigating had not ruled out the possibility of death by natural causes. Nellie noticed a dead branch was no longer in a dogwood tree along the garden path. She was adamant that it was a potential safety hazard before she left for the theatre. Indeed, she handed us a threatening note telling Mr. Weston that if he didn’t want for the entire village to know his true identity he would drop out of the garden competition. In unison, we asked what was his true identity. Nellie replied, a surgical assistant traveling to a peaceful community.
Later that evening we reflected upon our individual thought processes. I focused on what I saw and heard in my reasoning abilities. Rosemary would rely on instinct to problem solve. Sight and the heartiness of the wood seemed to rule out the dogwood branch as the culprit. The motive definitely had something to do with the past life of Mr. Weston. Mr. Judd had gotten too close to the truth and had to be eliminated. I returned to the Weston residence, to see if I could discover any more clues to a murder plot. Nellie showed me the tropical plant that Mary Morris gave her. Previously, Rosemary had nodded in my direction later after our visit, to explain that “ Dragon’s Tongue “ or fountain bleu was a deadly yet deceptively beautiful plant. As our conversation continued, I realized that Rosemary was at the Morris residence replacing calla lilies. If my hunch was correct, she was in grave danger.
Stealthily, approaching from behind I came up from behind Mary and hit her over the head. Cornered in the upper garden Rosemary leaned against the stone wall. As she fell, Mary dropped the poisonous dart she held in her hand. The poisonous dart intended for Mr. Judd, then another one for Mr. Weston went undetected during the autopsies. Promptly, the detectives rounded the corner and facts were sorted out. The theatre ticket from a secret admirer came from Mary Morris. It was used to usher Nellie Weston away so that Mary could do away with Mr. Weston. Likewise, the poisonous plant was given to Nellie to remove it from Mary’s premises. Mr. Judd had more than one overcoat he wore to work in the area gardens. Mary confessed he knew too much and had to be killed when he saw her place ammonium sulfate in the tree bark mulch. Mr. Weston traveled to England to try to escape the haunting of a possible malpractice charge. When he was found innocent, he retired to ” Laurel Inn “, to live pleasantly among the villagers. Rosemary confirmed this as truth when Mary thought it was time for her to expire. Mary shared the motive at last. The patient that died was William Morris, Mary’s twin brother. She bitterly cried out in a mournful keen.
As the overwhelming fragrance of sweet William roses in her garden filled the air. She led everyone up the garden path. Two gardening detectives, Rosemary Moyer and myself Ivy Lane helped crime solve once more. Gardening helped calm one's nerves, and we could certainly use that and some lavender tea, of course.