Olivia felt left out of life. Since her husband died, she seldom saw anyone. She often stood at the living room window and watched cars, vans, cyclists and the occasional motorhome speed by. No-one ever stopped. Perhaps once or twice a month, the postman brought some largely unsolicited mail which he shoved unceremoniously through the letter box. And then there was the electricity meter reader who called twice a year and had to be allowed in to peer in the cupboard under the stairs. Hardly what you would call visitors.
She lived in a rather plain semi-detached red brick house. The doors and windows could have done with a drop of paint and the curtains hung dejectedly, faded by the sun.
Her front garden was very ordinary. A small lawn, a cluster of daffodils in the spring and a few straggly shrubs which struggled to flower. She knew now what she was doing wrong. After watching Monty Don on that gardening programme, he showed her how to prune with confidence and most importantly to fertilise as the new growth appeared. They were starving, those hapless bushes, due to years of neglect. No wonder no-one leant over the garden wall to make small talk about the weather.
It was time to make some decisions. The garden was top of the list. First to go were the tired shrubs. It was not easy digging them up, but she persevered. She dragged them around to the back of the house and burnt them with the broken wardrobe that had finally fallen apart and nearly crushed her in the process.
She kept the daffodil bulbs carefully in a box to be replanted in the autumn. They were resilient. Every year they had poked their little green spikes through the soil and delighted her with their golden blooms without the slightest care or attention from her. Little miracles they were.
Next she turned her attention to the lawn. It took her the best part of a week to remove all the turf. Weeding and the application of moss killer the year before had done nothing to improve it’s look, so the whole lot had to go. Whereas most people would have bought new turf, or planted grass seed on the bare earth, Olivia simply didn’t want the bother of mowing anymore. Last time she had been in the town, she had bought up Wilkinson’s entire supply of marigold seeds. Funny looks she had got at the till, but she didn’t care.
She had to wait quite a few weeks before the seedlings started to emerge. She watered them diligently. One magical day the little buds started to open and what used to be a lawn was transformed into a golden meadow. Cars began to slow down as they passed. Pedestrians stopped to look and took out their phones to take photographs. Olivia decided she would put a sign up by the gate.
‘Welcome to the marigold lawn’.
She set up a small table by the front door and began offering tea and biscuits to the curious pedestrians. Soon a journalist and photographer from the local newspaper dropped in to interview her and she was delighted to see full page coverage in the Saturday edition of the town gazette. No longer lonely, Olivia relished the attention she was receiving, and all it had cost was a little physical effort and the cost of a dozen packets of seeds. The future was definitely looking brighter.