The Garden Tour – A Very Short Story

A Very Short Story

          The membership secretly wished for a new garden tour chairwoman. Mrs. Abigail Smythe-Greene had been the chair for six years in a row. In many ways, she single-handily put on the event. She stalked her neighbors until one or the other agreed to put their gardens on the tour. She sold the bulk of the tickets by accosting anyone she came in contact with. Everyone had to admit that through her determination, the spring tour had become a village highlight.

          The problem with Mrs. Smythe-Greene was she managed every year to do something that embarrassed the membership. One year she ordered yellow shirts with the club’s name on them. The shirts arrived in size small, which worked fine for five percent of the membership including Abigail. Those who wore a medium size, never mind those who needed large, were first embarrassed, and than angry; they felt their robust sizes were being mocked. Abigail’s answer to this snafu was direct and insensitive. She said, “If the shirts don’t fit, I suggest people go immediately on a strict diet.” Of course, there was the time the tulips in all the tour gardens, a magnificent display that year, were eaten by the deer. Abigail forgot to close gates after their last minute inspection of the venues. The truth be told, she was busy herding her flock of committee members on to the next address in her ‘full steam a head mode.’

          But all good things can come to an end. The day of one particular tour, the owner of the first garden greeted the shift of hostesses assigned to her garden. She told each of them where to stand throughout the garden in order to be helpful to the crowds who always asked questions. Since the members of the entire garden club were expert plantswomen, they were more than prepared to dazzle the tour guests with their knowledge. Daisy Hill, positioned at her spot, was left alone for a few minutes to enjoy the perfect day.

Shortly, the first dozen or so ticket holders, including Mrs. Smythe-Greene, began to make their way towards Daisy. Someone screamed. A hush fell over the group as they looked at a body floating in the pond, water rippling merrily all around.

No one laughed at the time, but when the rubber inflatable body, face down, was fished out with a lawn rake, the joke played on the club’s fearless leader proved too much for her. How would she ever live down the shock of a dead body on her tour?  

A week later, at the wrap-up meeting of the tour committee, she announced, “I have done my job, ladies. It is high time I step down.” A collective sigh and a wink passed between the committee as they crowded round congratulating her for her years of service. The instigator of the hoax was never named, but Daisy Hill felt she’d been black-mailed when she agreed to the chairmanship the following year.

About Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin

Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin grew up in Evanston, IL. and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She is an author of two novels: The Greening of a Heart and Facing East. She lives, writes and gardens in NC. Visit her:
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1 Response to The Garden Tour – A Very Short Story

  1. John says:


    I just found your site via Pinterest; I’m looking forward to spending some time here. Cheers!

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