The Greenhouse

This week's homework was to think of an item we used to own but no longer have.
Strangely I chose a greenhouse and from that thought based a purely fictional short story....

The Greenhouse

William Frobisher liked Wednesdays.  His wife, Deidre, would go into town to have her hair set, meet her sister for lunch and then spend the afternoon selecting books in the library.  William would spend Wednesdays in his greenhouse with his roses, a foiled pack of ham and pickle sandwiches and severely brewed tea in a tartan flask.  He grew traditional floribunda roses, Duke of York, Douglas and Amber Queen.  His greenhouse was small, cedar wood framed and, in William’s opinion, the best place in the world.  In Summer the top window would open and it would allow just a tiny bit of cool air, William would doze in the garden chair he had positioned between the grow bags.  In Autumn the rain would patter on the glass and he would feel cosy and dry.  In Winter he would take a little fan heater in with him, thankfully he had ran an electrical cable from the house years ago.  In Spring, his busiest and favourite time of year, he would be on his feet wood treating the greenhouse frame, keeping it safe from weather elements.  Many times Deirdre would suggest a new greenhouse, one of a metal frame construction; William would shudder, no, definitely not for him.

William Frobisher died on a Wednesday, quietly and peacefully dozing in his garden chair between pots of Rhapsody in Blue and Ray of Hope.

Frank Carlisle shouted at his son again, “Get a move on.”  He was a lazy article.  Carlisle and Son, House Clearance Specialists consisted of Frank and his good-for-nothing son, Bernard.  Frank carried the business and it worried him how his son would ever take over.  Today they were heading to Kent to collect a greenhouse.  Ordinarily it wouldn’t be worth the time and effort but Frank had felt a twinge of sadness for the woman on the phone.  It surprised him because he did many house clearances after funerals; perhaps he was going soft in his old age.  Also the idea of a little cedar wood greenhouse appealed to him.  He thought he might install it in his niece’s garden; she was partial to planting up a few bedding plants each year and at the moment only had one of those little lean-to greenhouses.

It didn’t take long to dismantle each of the greenhouse sections.  Bernard had finally woken up enough to be useful.  Frank said no to the garden chair and when he was offered a rose he remarked that it was a pretty colour but he didn’t ‘do roses’.

Beth Sinclair was thrilled with the little cedar wood greenhouse.  It was smaller than she expected but within just a few months she realised how sweet and cosy it was.  She set up some staging, lined up all her seed trays and grew enough marigolds and geraniums to fill her garden and both her neighbours.  She planned to spend a couple of hours in her greenhouse each day while James was at work but more often James would return home and find her still pricking out seedlings and checking for greenfly.   She was at her happiest in her greenhouse; she decided to place a garden chair between her tomato plants, just to sit down occasionally when her legs ached. 

Beth was so shocked to be pregnant, they had been trying for years and just at the point she had resigned herself to accepting that she wouldn’t be a mother, it happened.  Everyone fussed over her which she didn’t like.  She would seek sanctuary in her greenhouse, never taking her phone out there – it was her peaceful place of escape.  The birth was complicated, the baby was fine but Beth stayed in hospital for a couple of weeks.  James, ever the organiser, explained that he had got everything ready at home, every single labour saving device he could find.  Beth was anxious to be home, she imagined the baby in her pram in the garden while she worked in her greenhouse; she would need to plant up the next batch of seedlings soon.

James pulled open the curtains revealing the garden makeover.  The majority of the lawn had been paved and gravelled (that would cut down on mowing).  The borders had been made into raised beds (that would save bending) and the little cedar wood greenhouse had gone.  In its place was a ‘Hartley Vista’ – James read from the brochure, “a modern aluminium frame combining straight lines and sweeping curves into a shark-fin style roofline shape that will catch the eye of any visitors to your garden, while providing you with variable headroom for a flexible workspace.”

Beth cried.  James consoled her, explaining it was probably the ‘baby blues’.

Christine Emberson
October 2012


  1. Hi Christine, I just came across this. What a lovely little story, you are so talented.
    Take care Sally x

  2. I came to you from John Next Door.
    Oh! how I wept for Beth. I hate surprises for this reason.
    Thank you for your lovely story.

  3. Christine,
    What a lovely short story, poor Beth, I had tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat!
    I can't wait for your next story xxxx
    Sandra xxxx

  4. Hello Christine
    I could smell the tomatoes just like my greenhouse!
    Men think they are helping but don't ask do they!

  5. Thank you a sad little story take care kitty.


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