by Helen Reynolds
3 Winks Design
The old house, with its over grown garden, was secretive and seductive! There were old fashioned roses trailing up the front porch posts and next to those were wildly growing lilac bushes. The big willow tree draping over the path made the entrance to the house feel hidden and private. Looking past all of the neglected foliage, one could see the front door with its weathered and faded paint that was once a cheerful red.
The house once belonged to Maren’s grandmother. Now it was hers. She had traveled to the old place from her loft in the city intending to clean it out and put it on the market. She had just been laid off from her job and since her savings would only last her a few months, this house sale was going to be a blessing to her financially. But now, looking at the house and seeing the garden that had once been tended and beautiful, she stood there remembering the time she had spent here visiting her grandparents. She had helped to harvest flowers for the dining room table and helped her grandmother dry lilacs and roses and create beautiful wreaths for the cherry red front door. Her grandpa had teased her grandma about the color of that front door saying it was “loud”. But her grandma had said it was cheerful and welcoming. Maren had known that her grandma was right.
Maren continued up to the porch, unlocked the door and stepped inside the house. Her grandmother had only passed away a few months ago, so except for some dust, the house was still pretty neat. Her grandma had been so fastidious about her home. Even after Grandpa had passed 3 years before, Grandma had kept the house up. But, the few months before she had gotten really sick, the garden had gotten to be too much for her. With no one to mess up the inside, it remained in its warm and tidy state. Maren knew that she could sell the house in the state it was in. She couldn’t afford any updates, so the new buyers would have to do that.
Maren went upstairs to the room that she had always stayed in when she came to visit. It didn’t feel right to sleep in her grandma’s room somehow. She had always loved the little room at the top of the stairs with the window that looked over the side garden and the sweet rosebud wall paper. The bed was all made up as if waiting for her. Maren put her things away and decided that she had better go to the corner market to pick up a few groceries for while she was in town. Tomorrow she would contact a real estate agent to help her get the sale in motion.
Standing at the cash register at the corner market, she saw some tables that were selling a few handmade items from the locals of the town. “Hmmm,” Maren had an idea. She asked the cashier if she brought some items to the store if she might add them to the sale tables. The cashier, who was also the store owner, told her to bring them in and if they met her approval she could sell them on consignment
Maren hurried home to the house. She opened the backyard garden shed and was happily greeted by what she expected! Her grandmother’s bunches of dried flowers and herbs from the last season of harvest. Maren gently gathered them and took them inside the house to the large dining table. Then, she went to the big closet with all of her grandma’s crafting supplies and she found the wire wreath forms that she knew would be there, and wire and ribbons. There were enough supplies and dried flowers to make at least 3 large wreaths! Maren thought to herself that if she could sell these wreaths at a decent price, that any bits of paint or supplies that she needed to get the house in order to sell could come out of that money instead of her savings. So, she got to work and worked well into the night making beautiful wreaths, the way her grandma had taught her to do it. Then, she went to bed and dreamed of those sweet, carefree days.
In the morning, Maren showered and prepared for a busy day. First stop was the market. The owner, whose name was Lydia, loved the wreaths and said that she would price them at $75 dollars each to start and see how that went. Maren was surprised at the high price in this small town and expected that they would eventually go for less. Lydia would keep 10% of the sale price. Next, Maren went downtown to a real estate office and spoke with the agent there. She had time to help Maren right away, so they went back to the house together. Maren explained that she couldn’t put a bunch of money into the house, so the agent, Susan, gave her some simple ideas of things to do that wouldn’t cost much. Groom the garden, paint the front door, dust, and bake cookies for home showings so the house would smell inviting.
As soon as Susan left, Maren got to work in the front yard. She began trimming and clipping flowers. She couldn’t help herself; she still hung the beautiful blooms up to dry just as her grandmother had always done for so many years. There were lilacs, roses, lavender, larkspur and baby’s breath, so many beautiful specimens that had been so carefully tended by her grandmother. Maren mowed and worked until late afternoon, only stopping for a sandwich at lunch time. Then she stood on the sidewalk and admired her work. The garden was beautiful, inviting and still seductive. It welcomed visitors in and with little benches here and there, it invited them to stay. That feeling made Maren feel sad about leaving this garden that made her feel so much at home. She felt tired yet somehow energized at the same time after the day of yard work and seeing the fruits of her labor made her feelings even more intense.
Maren showered and changed and then strolled down to the market to see if Lydia had sold even one of her wreaths. As she walked in, she saw that none of the wreaths were on the table. She looked at Lydia who opened the register and handed her a wad of cash. “A lady from the city who owns a boutique there bought all of your wreaths. She wants to know if you bring anymore in because she is sure they will sell like hotcakes. She is going to charge $100 for them! She left her card if you want to call her.” Maren was in shock! She took the money and the card and thanked Lydia profusely. Then, she went down to the hardware store and purchased some sandpaper and red paint. As she walked back to the house, she noticed that her yard wasn’t the only one with beautiful flowers in their gardens. She began to formulate an idea.
The next day, Maren sanded and painted her front door all the while thinking about her plan. Then she began to walk around and meet the neighbors who had beautiful gardens and started to make inquiries about purchasing some of their abundance of flowers. She was able to harvest some immediately, pay some money from her stake supplied by the 3 wreaths and hang the flowers in her garden shed with her own. Then, she called the lady in the city that had left her card and told her that in 3 weeks she would be able to supply her with more floral creations. The lady, Madge, was thrilled because 2 of the wreaths had already sold that day! Finally, Maren called Susan and told her that she was keeping her house but would be selling her loft in the city. By the end of the day, she started having a panic attack about what she was doing, but it felt so right that she wasn’t going to change her mind. The loft didn’t have as much equity as the house would have given her, but it would help as she embarked on this new business.
Fast forward five years! Maren has a successful cottage industry. She helps neighbors make a little extra money by purchasing their flowers. She has expanded her own garden around the house and built a larger garden shed. She sells some of her wreaths, lavender wands and other beautiful items from her front porch. The boutique in the city that was her first customer now shares selling her brand with about 10 other shops in two cities, plus Maren still puts a few things in the corner market. She employs two part time employees to help her with harvesting and arranging. She also teaches classes in gardening and floral arranging at the community center. She married her accountant who also helps her with business tips, enabling her business to thrive and they have 2 year old twins! Every day, when Maren goes out to her garden she thinks of her grandma and says a quiet thank you to the woman who made it all possible.