The work of a botanist had long suited Alan Greene. There had been endless jokes and jibes from schoolmates growing up about his “Greene thumb” and Alan was perfectly happy to tend to his garden, which blossomed beautifully with tender care in a way that human relationship could never be relied upon to do. He wrote extensively; even though his ostensible specialization was ragweed and sunflowers and other Asteraceae, his knowledge was far broader and found expression wherever it could, from academic monographs to gardening magazine articles. His home in Hopewell, near campus, was a popular stop on the parade of homes due to its massive and carefully maintained lawn and flowers.

When he retired, Alan bought property in the Upper Peninsula near the old SMU field station that had closed in 1974. With quite the nest egg saved up–he had never married, girlfriends always pulling up stakes claiming he loved his plants more than them–he’d invested in a property out in the middle of nowhere, roughly halfway between Paradise village and Whitefish Point. It was equipped with a geothermal heating system, its own well, and a greenhouse almost as large as all the other rooms combined.

Infrequent visitors found the lawn to be an order of magnitude more impressive than the old Hopewell property, bursting with artful arrangements of flowers and grass in front and a garden bursting with produce around back. In the winter, heated by the geothermal pipes and the occasional cylinder of propane from Paradise, the greenhouse was a beacon of life, often snowbound.

When Alan’s remains were found in his garden nearly a year after his last trip to town, investigators were astonished to discover seventeen previously unknown varieties of flora growing about him–a last will and testament of sorts.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!