The Red Book of Primrose House: A Potting Shed Mystery (Potting Shed Mystery series 2)

The Red Book of Primrose House: A Potting Shed Mystery (Potting Shed Mystery series 2) by Marty Wingate Read Free Book Online

Book: The Red Book of Primrose House: A Potting Shed Mystery (Potting Shed Mystery series 2) by Marty Wingate Read Free Book Online
Authors: Marty Wingate
which wouldn’t be delivered for a couple of weeks.
    A note was pushed through the letter slot in the door, but not all the way, and so she took it out, telling herself that it could just as easily be for her as Davina and Bryan—after all, she lived there, too, albeit temporarily. Despite her reasoning, she felt a pang of guilt as she read the brief note from Jamie Tanner to the Templetons, which said he hoped that they would enjoy the roses he had found for them.
Not exactly subtle,
Pru thought. The pang of guilt dissolved. Well, let him try to butter them up—she was the one with the head-gardener post.
    While her crew was off between the holidays, she continued to work. She spent most evenings going over pages of the Red Book and then searching for clues in the landscape. She poked around at the end of the drive, looking for remnants of the magnificent gateposts Repton had recommended. She dug around at the base of the house—he hadn’t cared for red brick and often recommended that stucco be applied. “I have shewn the effect of changing the house to a stone colour,” he had written. Perhaps the bricks of Primrose House had been covered with stucco once, but no sign remained now.
    She began to come up with a few ideas of her own, too. The broad balustrade stone terrace that ran along the back of the house gave way to a steep lawn-covered slope, ending abruptly at the bottom as it ran into the overgrown yew walk. On the other side of the yew was a clearing beside the wood. Pru hoped the Templetons would eventually terrace the lawn, providing several levels for planting beds. Repton hadn’t specifically advised it, but did make mention that “…the stile and character of the house requires a certain space of dressed lawn or pleasure ground.” A stone staircase and stone-edged beds cut into the slope could give way to the more informal landscape below.
    Dreams were fine, but more practical tasks made the restoration real. Pru planted the cyclamen and snowdrops that Simon gave her, and she bought ten flats of primroses and cowslips—grown from locally collected seed—and left the flats in the unheated greenhouse to grow on; they would be planted in another month. Primrose House would have primroses at last.
    —
    It was a Tuesday, the first day they were all back at work—one of Robbie’s days, and he was the only one with a smile on his face. A fine, cold drizzle fell. Pru handed out assignments and was met with rebellion.
    “Liam, go with Ned, please, and finish clearing out the back two beds, then we’ll work our way forward and be ready for the manure when it arrives. And, Fergal, would you go up and help Robbie on the holes for the roses?”
    “I’ll help Robbie,” Liam said. He stood a little apart from the rest of them, holding the handle of a shovel and resting his foot on its blade.
    Liam seldom had the patience for Robbie, and Pru had soon learned to keep them from working on the same task. “Liam, I’d rather you go with Ned today…”
    “I won’t,” he said, and she could see the red creeping up his face and the muscles on his neck stand out. “I’ll go with Robbie.”
    “Liam…” Fergal began.
    “I won’t do it,”
Liam shouted.
    Ned stood silent, looking back out at the road, as if observing something of great interest. “I’ll help the boy,” he said quietly. “We’ll get started on those holes, will we, Robbie?”
    Robbie could pick up a tense tone in the air as well as anyone, and she could see the confusion on his face.
    “Liam and I’ll clear out the beds, Pru,” Fergal said. “We’ll do the back four, not just two.” Each bed was a large thirty-two-square-foot space chock-full of perennial and woody weeds; to dig out and carry off all the material down to their designated brush pile would take the entire day, as short as daylight was.
    Pru felt a mutiny on her hands, and, unprepared for it, decided to go with the flow. “Yes, sure, Fergal, thanks.” She took a

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