And now, to quote Paul Harvey, here’s the rest of the story.

After Betty Goodwin got Max’s pledge to remove the horrible junipers, she said, “I envision

a boxwood hedge in front of the house. But you must promise me you will never use an electric hedge trimmer. You must trim it by hand.” Max promised, and then Betty left us, telling us to expect a landscaping plan in the mail.

We had spent most of the day with her, and by that time, we were totally confused and wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. The truth was that neither of us knew what boxwood looked like. We decided to see what Betty Goodwin proposed before giving up, which was a good decision. She sent a plan, and we loved every bit of it – the hedge (although we still didn’t know what it looked like), climbing roses, peonies, hybrid daylilies, hostas in the shade under the trees – and were ready to get going (we still have her notes and re-read them as we remembered the infancy of our gardening adventure).

She said she had a particular, rare, boxwood plant in mind, and that she would notify us when she found enough plants to stretch the length of the house. Rare? I got nervous. Not only did I not know what this hedge was going to look like, I thought that “rare” probably meant expensive. 

In the meantime, we asked a friend for help. He had a big tractor with forks (like a forklift), and he tore out those darn junipers – and though I was happy, Max had been right. The house looked naked.

But Betty still hadn’t called. The anticipation was killing us. When would the house get some “clothing” out front? One night, we went to a movie, and one scene involved a small hedge around a garden. At the same time, we looked at each other and whispered, “Boxwood!” We had been smart to trust Betty Goodwin. That hedge was going to look good.

Finally, she called. Betty had located the appropriate number of Korean hardy boxwood plants – withstanding hot summers and cold winters – at a Kansas City nursery, and they were set back for us. We could go pick them up. Max asked whether he would need a truck, and she thought we probably would, as there were 18 of them. 18? 18.

We borrowed the truck, and Max went to Kansas City to get the plants that would soon dress the front of the house. A few hours later he returned and got out of our friend’s truck, giggling.  He said, “I could have put them in the trunk.” I looked in the bed of the truck and saw 18 teeny-tiny boxwood plants huddled together in one small corner. They couldn’t have been more than six inches tall, but their stems – trunks – were huge. We set them out that afternoon, planning to plant them the next day.

“How much?,” I asked. Max shrugged. The guy at the nursery said Betty would send us a bill. My delight in the plants diminished. How much were these things going to cost? 

The next day, Max’s 40th birthday, he started digging. We had called Betty to find out how far in front of the porch they should be, and how far apart they should be, and followed her instructions exactly. By the end of the day, we had a hedge, although it looked instead like 18 tiny green soccer balls dwarfed by a huge white wall.

I called Betty to tell her it looked good and to thank her. I asked about when we should begin the next phase of the plan. She replied, “You might want to wait a while after this investment, but we should start the roses next.”

Investment. I was right. This was going to bankrupt us. But at least we would have a lovely boxwood hedge.

In the end, we were not bankrupted, Max discovered he has a green thumb (I don’t), and we realized that our trust had been well-placed. Of course, he has since trimmed the hedge painstakingly only by hand – no electric trimmer. He wouldn’t dare.


Contributing Columnist

Deborah Mitchell is a local attorney.

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