Part II

Chad and Aaron jostle, wrestle and coax a large stone into place, a perfect fit and level to boot. Ben Eaton's eyes are filled with excitement, "These guys are the best," he whispers. The guys are building a curved two and half foot high stone wall. Ben is right; the stonework is exceptional. Ben Eaton is the owner of "The Secret Gardener," a garden design and planting business he created more than a decade ago.

It has been seven years since Ben and his wife Margaret, who we met last time, purchased a building on Warren Street. Over those years Ben and Margaret walked past the two empty lots, a few doors from their home, hundreds of times. Each time Ben passed, a long time dream stirred within him, the dream of building a secret garden on Warren Street, providing highly detailed horticultural services and bringing a bit of beauty to the street.

When Ben was a boy he was crazy about cars. He subscribed to car magazines, Hot Rod, Motor Trend and others. If it was about cars, he read it. He dreamed of cars, exotic cars, fast cars. Then he went to college. There he majored in business administration. In order to pay for his education, Ben took a job working at Andover Farm Nursery. He worked long hours and fell madly in love. He canceled his car magazine subscriptions and devoured every gardening and horticultural magazine he could get his hands on. Before very long he knew it was time to start his own business and "The Secret Gardener" was born. Driven by his dreams the business became successful.

Finally the day arrived when Ben could no longer just walk past those two vacant lots. He bought the parcels as well as the adjacent property and structure. The structure was what remained of Mike Finn's Barber Shop, the place where legend has it, Legs Diamond used to get his hair cut over seventy years ago. Although Ben wanted to save and use the building, it had been condemned and had to come down. Ben salvaged as much of the building as possible and is recycling it into the "Secret Garden". Mike Finn's Barbershop doors for example, will be the front doors of the storefront structure Ben plans to construct. All the stone used in those beautiful walls Chad and Aaron are building came from the site.

When you ask Ben to describe what the "Secret Garden" will look like, excitement overtakes him. He points and gestures around the three-lot landscape. A huge smile attacks his face and his eyes light up. When I look, I see a white Quonset hut shaped structure, the greenhouse. I see stone walls, piles of rock, and markers where the 16 x 20 Federal style storefront will soon rise one and a half stories. Ben, on the other hand, sees the completed structure, stone walkways, the arbor, containers and pots, patio and garden accessories, tables covered with herbs, annuals and perennials, house plants, tropical plants, florist coolers filled with fresh cut flowers, professional tools, gardening books, wheelbarrows and shovels, the list is endless. And then there's the landscaping, trees and shrubs and flowering plants everywhere, a virtual paradise amidst an urban setting. The curious and amazing thing is that as Ben speaks I am able to look into his eyes and clearly see it all. It is lush, it is real and it is beautiful. Ben is a dreamer, but he is no idle dreamer. He is a man who makes dreams live.

I shake Ben's hand and wish him luck, but that isn't necessary. He has sufficient luck and all the desire and energy to make his dream come true. Ben and Margaret and daughter Lucy have a marvelous life ahead because their love for life nurtures dreams. I enjoyed my visit; their dreams are delightfully infectious.

We'll talk next time From The Road.

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