It was difficult to leave, but Barbara had no choice. The removal van was laden with their furniture, the car packed with the essentials of kettle, tea and emergency rations. Dennis was waiting, but she had to take a last walk around the garden.
The garden was a history of their time together in the house. The Bramley at the bottom, planted when they first moved in, towered above the fences, sheds and lesser trees of neighbouring gardens. The two lilacs, commemorating the births of their children, were as strong, sturdy and mature as Barbara’s own son and daughter. She paused at each commemorative plant, remembering why it had been planted. She remembered trips to the garden centre with her children to choose markers for the pets they once had. Bernie, the Dachshund, Frodo, the tortoiseshell, hamsters, guinea pigs, all had a special shrub.
The rose garden, started when grandchildren began to arrive, now had five rose bushes. Barbara smelled each one in turn for what would be the last time.
Dennis came up behind her and gave a quiet cough. He knew how difficult it was to leave their home of forty-two years, but they could no longer manage the large garden and rather than see it overgrown they had sold the house.
‘Oh! Dennis, I’m going to miss this so much,’ said Barbara, brushing away a tear.
‘I will too, but we have to go, and if we don’t leave soon the removal men will be in Gillingham before us,’ said Dennis.
Their new home was just that, a newly built bungalow, with a much smaller garden. Although the house had everything you could wish for inside, the garden was bland concrete paths and straight edged lawns. Soulless was Barbara’s instant judgement. But there was no turning back.
They spent the next day unpacking and moving in. Barbara was exhausted. On the following day Dennis asked Barbara to sit by the front window.
‘I’m expecting a delivery and you know what these new developments are like, the driver might miss us. I’ll be in the back sorting my tools, just give me a call when he arrives,’ said Dennis.
It was an hour later when the lorry came slowly down the road. Barbara was lost in her book when she saw it. She rushed into the back garden to find Dennis digging a hole in the lawn.
‘What are you doing, Dennis?’ she said, then quietly, ‘your delivery’s here.’
‘Good, come and give me a hand.’
Of course, Barbara didn’t need to lend a hand. The friendly people from Orchard Park unloaded what must have been the biggest Cherry Tree they had, and trolleyed it around to the back of the bungalow. They even helped Dennis site it in the hole he’d dug.
‘After all,’ said Dennis after the lorry had left and they were admiring the magnificent tree, ‘this is a special occasion!’ They enjoyed its blossom together for many years.