The garden was in disarray – had been for as long as Harold could remember. He’d never taken much notice of it except as a short-cut to the compost heap, since the high hedges that surrounded it (kept neatly trimmed by Devious, who gardened on Thursdays) hit it from view.
Not today, though. He’d opened the window of the third floor bathroom (he’d had to, really, thanks to the lingering effects of last night’s curried prawns) and happened to spot a flash of yellow in January.
“Jasmine,” said Julie when he mentioned it. “I cleared away some of the dead wood last October and it’s flowered a treat. Come and see.”
She donned a pair of wellington boots from the scullery and led him around the corner of the house into the old scented garden. She saw him looking about. “It’s a shame, isn’t it?” she said. “I bet this used to be a beautiful retreat in its day. I rescued the Jasmine, but there were dozens of plants I can’t even begin to imagine.”
Harold looked through the tangle of brambles and nettles to the dilapidated remains of a small building. “What’s that?” he said, pointing.
“An old summerhouse, I think.” Julie pulled some thornapple fruits that looked dry and withered. “I use it for drying herbs at the moment.” She looked at the handful of berries. “Lamb casserole for tea, I think.”
“Those are poisonous,” said Harold with a frown.
“I know.” Julie winked. “Shall we invite the vicar?”