If approached, the Greenhouse Spirit will sometimes deign to carry on a short conversation rather than vanishing. The groundskeepers affectionately call her “Greenie” and appreciated the lack of malice or melancholy she displayed, in sharp contrast to the other spirits roaming the grounds.

When she appears, the Spirit will fill the greenhouse with spectral plants and flowers, though whether these are the spirits of actual flowers or a manifestation of Greenie herself is a matter of some debate. She herself appears to be a young woman, solidly in the 16-26 age range, but as spirits’ appearances do not always reflect their appearance in life no one has been able to discern any biographical details, and the Spirit declines to provide them.

She will, instead, extol the values of her current garden, which neither ages nor dies, and maintain that only as a spirit could she work with such plants.

Inspired by this image.

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In the darkest depths of the Great Depression, Ridgeway and the surrounding hamlets would occasionally be visited by an itinerant from the backcountry who followed the rails and the old 313 from place to place. At first the man was largely left to his own devices, but it soon became know that many of the vacant and barren lots in which he spent time between sojourns would blossom forth with fruit and flower after his departure.

Eventually, a man who’d lost his job when the sawmill closed approached the itinerant, who had no known name but was occasionally referred to as Garden Joe. The millworker asked for a batch of barren soil near his house to be blessed with produce so that his family might supplement their meager diet. At first “Garden Joe” refused, but the millworker prevailed upon him.

The itinerant agreed to help on three conditions: that he be left totally alone, unmolested, and unobserved on the land for 24 hours, that he be paid with a single silver nickel with a hole punched through it, and that the nickel be hung from a string in a nearby tree before it was collected. The millworker, desperate, agreed.

The lot next door soon blossomed forth with a bounty of fruits and vegetables, and the silver coin was collected three days later.

Word soon spread, and throughout Ridgeway and nearby country towns “Garden Joe” was deluged with similar offers. He made the same three requests to all comers, substituting a penny or a dime if the people involved were particularly poor or well-off. Each time, as promised, the garden would grow.

Eventually, travelers began speaking of Garden Joe’s shack in the wilderness, surrounded by floral beauty. Next to the house, people said, was an old dead tree with branches weighed down with silver coins on strings. It was inevitable in those hard times that someone would eventually seek to see for themselves.

A ne’er-do-well from Ridgeway named Samson eventually decided that he wanted more than beauty and food from Garden Joe. He followed the man back to his home and stole a single silver nickel from the tree to show to would-be confederates who could then help him steal the entire thing. He enticed a half-dozen Ridgeway down-and-outers to do so.

The next day, Ridgeway awoke to find their gardens brown and dead; even those who had canned or iceboxed their harvest found it rotten and inedible. Samson was unable to locate the house again despite the notes and trail markers he’d left; his “friends” wound up taking their share out of his hide.

And Garden Joe? He was never seen in those parts again.

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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.

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Maintaining a garden was no easy task, least of all for someone with Marie’s fastidiousness. Any intruder, any interloper, any seed or spore that was there without her express permission was to be sought out and eradicated. Crouching in the finely-parted earth with calipers in one hand and gardener’s shears in the other was in many ways the perfect outlet for her obsessive compulsion.

“Oh no you don’t,” she muttered, examining a newly-sprouted maple sapling that had sprung up over the long holiday weekend. “Don’t even think about unfolding your usurping petioles in my garden.”

Normally a pacifist who made annual payroll-delectable contributions to PETA, Marie was vicious to garden intruders. She tore up the sapling by its roots, snapped its fragile stem in half, and threw it on a pile to be incinerated as yard waste.