Qiu Tian Gardening was one of the largest gardening shops in Fengcheng, with a large plant nursery on the outskirts of Fengcheng. The owner of Qiu Tian Gardening was Qiu Tian. After many years of operation, he cooperated well with some municipal units in Fengcheng and had always been a fixed supplier of these units. Li Weisheng’s unit was one of them.
Three days ago, Li Weisheng suddenly contacted Qiu Tian Gardening to return all the potted plants they had just delivered. The reason given by Li Weisheng was that the plants didn’t look energetic and the boss didn’t like them. This move was a severe slap in the face to Qiu Tian Gardening.
Qiu Tian was furious. He had been in the market for many years and thought he had guessed what was going on as soon as he returned to his senses. The boss didn’t like them! It must’ve been some competitor messing around behind his back. He then went around to find out what was going on, and finally he did find out, but the result was unexpected. It turned out that someone had indeed stolen his business, but it wasn’t the competitors he had in mind, but a small gardening shop with a few acres of plant nursery.
Qiu Tian wanted to go after that gardening shop but was stopped by his son Qiu Jun. Never mind the small-scale Tiny Garden, it would not be good to make trouble with Li Weisheng in case there was someone behind the opponent. At this time, Li Weisheng approached them again and ordered a new batch from them, which could be regarded as a way to protect the face of Qiu Tian Gardening. As the two sides talked, Li Weisheng defended Tiny Garden. Qiu Tian pondered about his words and felt that Li Weisheng had something to do with Tiny Garden. Although Li Weisheng was not a big deal, he was a logistics guy who ran outside all the time and knew a lot of people, so Qiu Tian had to give Li Weisheng some face.
It was just that they couldn’t take this loss for nothing. Qiu Tian sent Li Weisheng away and personally went to the garden to carefully pick out the potted plants that Brother Li wanted. He had thought about it; if the kid from Tiny Garden did not know how to be decent and stole his business because of his connections, he would take these potted plants and slap him hard in the face, so that the kid would understand why Qiu Tian Gardening was the boss of Fengcheng gardening.
When the delivery was made today, Qiu Tian deliberately sent his son Qiu Jun out, also showing how much he valued the business.
Li Weisheng thought it was an accident that the two happened to meet, but in fact it wasn’t at all. Qiu Jun was deliberately waiting for Lu Lingxi. When he saw Lu Lingxi driving over in a small broken Jinbei, Qiu Jun sneered. The kid really didn’t know what he was doing.
Since the two of them met, the important thing was whose goods would be collected first. Li Weisheng thought about it for a while. Although it was his first time working with Lu Lingxi, he had confidence in the potted plants sent by Tiny Garden. So he thought he would see Qiu Tian Gardening’s goods first. In case it still didn’t work out, they would have time to go back and exchange them. With this in mind, Li Weisheng said to Lu Lingxi, “Xiao Xi, wait a minute, I’ll collect the potted plants from this side first.”
“Okay.” Lu Lingxi nodded. He was not in a hurry and by the way, he wanted to see the other party’s potted plants. He had been at Tiny Garden for over two months now and had only been going to the flower market for a stroll; he hadn’t properly seen what other gardening shops were growing yet.
After Li Weisheng had said that, Qiu Jun gave Lu Lingxi a smug look. In his eyes, Li Weisheng asking them to unload first meant he was still closer to them. His face was provocative, but Lu Lingxi was clueless, completely ignorant of those undercurrents. Brother Li looked on helplessly and shook his head. It seemed he still had to go and talk to Qiu Tian so as not to get the kid in trouble.
Qiu Jun directed the other workers in the car to unload the potted plants inside and said to Brother Li with some pride, “What do you think, Brother Li?”
As a graduate of the University of Agriculture in China, Qiu Jun was not a straw bag (good-for-nothing), but a man of real talent. The potted plants were all picked by him and his father together. Both in terms of the shape of the plants and the colour of the leaves, they were definitely the best batch in the garden.
In fact, when Brother Li returned the plants, Qiu Jun himself knew that Brother Li had a point. Qiu Tian’s gardening business was getting bigger and bigger. Unlike the old days when they only had a few acres of plant nursery and could afford to take care of every plant there, now that they had hired workers, it was inevitable that they were a bit careless in their work as there were more people and it was not their own business. So some of the plants were really not well raised. There was also Qiu Tian Gardening’s ironclad relationship with the units and the fact that the general public could not see what was good or bad, so no one said anything in the past, until Brother Li returned all the potted plants.
Before this delivery, Qiu Jun watered and fertilised the selected potted plants, just short of washing the leaves. He wanted to make sure that the large-leaved golden pothos and money trees came to Brother Li’s place vibrant and pleasing to the eye.
Brother Li nodded as he looked at the pots of money trees and golden pothos on the ground. This time it seemed that Qiu Tian had really taken care of them, and the ones delivered were good, looking much more energetic. He instructed the logistics people to carry all these in and turned to Lu Lingxi.
“Xiao Xi, come, let’s unload the goods.”
Lu Lingxi nodded obediently. As soon as he pulled open the car door, Qiu Jun’s eyes flashed. Since those potted plants hadn’t been moved out of the car yet, they were losing a little in the height aspect. But once the people on the logistics team helped to move all the plants down, everyone’s eyes would not be able to move away.
China had a long history of ornamental plants, and the emphasis always was on “looking at the foliage and appreciating the form”. Qiu Jun and his father had spent half a day choosing the large-leaved golden pothos and money trees, all of which were bright green in colour and beautiful in shape. As soon as the Tiny Garden plants were brought out, Qiu Jun knew they had lost. In terms of the colour of the leaves, they were both similar, both were bright green, but the Tiny Garden plants were just a little more shiny, even though the people who were not knowledgeable would hardly be able to see it. But the shape of the plants was the main point.
Golden pothos had long, draped branches that swayed and fluttered, while the money trees were square, stable and majestic. It was clear that they were just two ordinary green plants, but a quick glance at them revealed their different charm. What was even rarer was that every one of these potted plants was vibrant and full of vitality.
Qiu Jun’s face immediately darkened. It was obvious that they were the same golden pothos, but the ones from Tiny Garden looked like a graceful beauty, while the ones from their shop were like the little servant carrying the fan behind the beauty. It was the same money tree, but the ones from Tiny Garden looked like an imposing general, while the ones from Qiu Tian Gardening were the boy holding the horse for the general. If the plants from the two companies were placed together like this, anyone who was not blind would be able to see the good and the bad.
Qiu Jun immediately became a little anxious. The comparison made their potted plants look even worse. He couldn’t say anything and hurriedly pulled Brother Li aside to discuss whether he could take the plants back and have them replaced with another batch.
Brother Li also understood his concerns and agreed without embarrassing him. The difference between the two was immediately apparent indeed.
As soon as Li Weisheng agreed, Qiu Jun instructed the workers and gathered all the potted plants that had been moved in before, giving Lu Lingxi a fierce glare with a black face before leaving. Lu Lingxi talked to Brother Li and didn’t notice Qiu Jun’s hostility, but Yi Hang saw it and glared back fiercely.
Leaving Li Weisheng’s place, Qiu Jun still had a black face and was in a bad mood. He had come here today with the intention of slapping the kid’s face, but it was him who ended up getting slapped instead. He didn’t know how Tiny Garden’s potted plants were actually cultivated. If he could learn his techniques… Qiu Jun narrowed his eyes and had a plan in mind. He was calculating when his phone suddenly rang. Qiu Jun frowned, picked it up and looked at it, then immediately changed his expression and smiled, “Lu Shao.”
The person on the other side of the phone was obviously in a bad mood as well, and without waiting for Qiu Jun to say anything, he started cursing.
“Do you guys at Qiu Tian Gardening not want your lives anymore? The saplings you sold to my dad last time are all fucking dead juts a few days after being planted. The boss is about to inspect it soon, it’s a key project this year. The new mayor is watching, what do you think we should do?”
“Dead?” Qiu Jun couldn’t believe it, “Lu Shao, the gardeners checked all the saplings when they were planted and said they were fine, basically they were all transplanted alive. How long has it been since then and they’re all dead?”
“You fucking think I’m lying to you, find a roadside to take a look! You tell me whether they’re alive or dead, and then tell me what you’re going to do!”
The person on the other side of the phone hung up abruptly, and Qiu Jun’s face clouded up for a moment. The person who had called him was called Lu Hongxin, the son of the director of Fengcheng City Administration. The main unit responsible for approving important municipal greening projects in Fengcheng was the Urban Greening Department under the City Administration. Lu Hongxin relied on his old man to get many projects under his name. Among them, due to their personal friendship with Lu Hongxin, Qiu Tian Gardening basically won most of the projects, and the two sides had been cooperating happily.
Thinking of this, Qiu Jun let out a sigh. When they bought the seedlings, he said that the seedlings would not grow well and that the 5cm thick seedlings would be easier to survive than the 2cm thick seedlings. The price was a little more expensive, but the follow-up was definitely less stressful and less laborious. As a result, the two ancestors quoted the price of the 5cm seedlings, but turned around and paid for the 2cm seedlings, making half the money on one seedling. When he was paid, he could do nothing, but when things went wrong, they came to him. Ancestors, indeed!
Although Qiu Jun scolded them like this, he knew in his heart that if something really happened, Qiu Tian Gardening would not be able to get away with it, so he had to go and see. But Lu Hongxin, this ancestor, couldn’t get contacted a few days ago. He had disappeared for half a month before popping up again. Qiu Jun didn’t know where he’d been all this time, but he must have gotten in trouble and gone into hiding.
Speculating casually in his heart, Qiu Jun glanced out the window. This was the area where municipal offices were concentrated. The vegetation on the roadside was very good, with weeping willows more than ten years old. The trees that Qiu Jun saw here were basically ten years old or older. He knew Lu Hongxin would not have the guts to plant those mop-stick saplings here, so he guessed it was in the most dilapidated places in Fengcheng where those saplings were planted.
After Qiu Jun left, Lu Lingxi finished moving the potted plants and also left; he didn’t deliver everything in one trip, so he had to run a few times.
Yi Hang drove away from Brother Li’s unit and turned into a small alley instead of going back the same way. “I remember there is a shortcut here, less than half the way we came.”
Lu Lingxi had no requirements for the distance, the only thing he wanted was for Yi Hang to drive more steadily. Although Dahei wasn’t here today, he could hardly stand the bumps of the Jinbei any longer.
Yi Hang smiled and stepped on the gas. Lu Lingxi hurriedly fastened his seat belt and gave Yi Hang a speechless glare. The two turned left and right, and Lu Lingxi could only see that the houses on both sides were getting more and more decrepit, and there were fewer and fewer high-rise buildings. Yi Hang introduced to him, “This is Nancheng, the south side of Fengcheng, I guess you don’t remember it. Originally, this side was very prosperous, the underground was full of coal, and over there was Fengluan Coal Mining Group. The coal underneath this area was mined out, and Fengluan Coal Mining Group also moved away. Some developers wanted to develop this place, but when they dug up the foundation, they saw that it was all empty below, and there was no way to build a building. After this incident spread out, there was no one willing to develop this area, and it became more and more rundown. Don’t look at our neighbourhood, it’s much better than this area.”
Lu Lingxi listened to Yi Hang’s introduction and looked out the window, suddenly for a moment, “Huh, isn’t that Qiu Tian Gardening car just now?”
Yi Hang was curious and glanced in the direction Lu Lingxi indicated, and indeed saw the white van parked not far to the left. The door of the van was open and the man he had seen before, who seemed to be called Qiu Jun, was squatting on the roadside studying a willow sapling.
Yi Hang subconsciously glanced at Lu Lingxi and wondered why they all had this problem. Last time Lao San got out of the car and carried back a willow sapling, and now that Qiu Jun also looked like he was planning to carry that willow sapling back.
“Lao San, what’s wrong with that tree?” Yi Hang didn’t understand and was a little curious as to what Qiu Jun was looking at.
Lu Lingxi tried a mental scan and frowned slightly as the white panel floated out. “That tree is about to die. Not only that tree, but the two trees next to it are dying too.”
Yi Hang didn’t care much about this, “That’s the matter of the Greening Department, it has nothing to do with us.” As he spoke he had already left Qiu Jun behind. Lu Lingxi withdrew his mental scan and looked a little sickly, not speaking again.
Through the white panel, he could see that these saplings were different from the one he had planted in his backyard. They withered not because of lack of water, but because of severe soil acidification, which led to soil compaction. The saplings’ roots were already weak, and this made it even more difficult for them to stretch and absorb the nutrients in the soil. He remembered the heavy rainstorm half a month ago and wondered how the environment would deteriorate if there were more of them.
After four trips to the plant nursery, Lu Lingxi and Yi Hang finally delivered all the potted plants that Brother Li needed. Brother Li gave them the money and Lu Lingxi decided to discuss with Yan Yue expanding the size of the plant nursery. As Yan Yue said last time, he could not do anything else, but he could plant more flowers and plants. This way, more people would buy them and the environment could be improved a little.
When he returned to Tiny Garden, Lu Lingxi saw Ye Kang again. Since Ye Kang came to Fengcheng, he stayed at Tiny Garden every day when he had nothing to do. Some of the regular customers saw Ye Kang and thought that Lu Lingxi had recruited another employee. Lu Lingxi was polite to Ye Kang, but Yan Yue often assigned Ye Kang to help customers carry potted plants and fertilisers, and he was not polite at all.
“You’re back.” When he saw Lu Lingxi enter, Yan Yue curled his lips in a smile, greeting him.
Lu Lingxi smiled at the two of them and nodded. Dahei had already run head over heels to Lu Lingxi and rubbed against his leg affectionately. Lu Lingxi curved his eyes and stroked Dahei’s head. He actually wanted to take Dahei to the plant nursery to get some fresh air, but when Dahei saw that it was Yi Hang driving, he refused to get into the car.
“Where is Yi Hang?”
“He dropped me off at the corner and went back.”
Yan Yue hooked up the corner of his mouth, satisfied with this answer. Because Yi Hang and Lu Lingxi had grown up together, Yan Yue was very wary of their closeness to each other. If it wasn’t for the initial agreement to get Yi Hang to do delivery for Tiny Garden, Yan Yue would not have given the two the opportunity to go to the plant nursery alone.
Ye Kang looked at Yan Yue playfully. Yan Yue’s possessiveness towards Lu Lingxi was unexpectedly strong. He watched Yan Yue endure silently and was somewhat curious to find out the limits of Yan Yue’s patience. Noticing Ye Kang’s gossipy eyes, Yan Yue faintly glanced at him. Ye Kang immediately looked serious, but his eyes gave him away. Speaking of which, he really didn’t know that his good brother had the potential to be a pervert. Thinking about it this way, Lu Lingxi was being targeted by a pervert and Ye Kang could only silently sympathise with him.
Lu Lingxi was completely oblivious to the eye-rolling between the two. He finished keeping the accounts for the day and mentioned to Yan Yue that he wanted to expand the size of the plant nursery.
Yan Yue would never refuse Lu Lingxi’s request.
Lu Lingxi was a little embarrassed, “Then there’s no way to give Big Brother Yan this month’s dividends. It will have to wait until next month.”
Yan Yue couldn’t resist reaching out and rubbing Lu Lingxi’s hair, smiling, “The larger the plant nursery, the more money you will earn in the future. Your Big Brother Yan can still do the math.”
Lu Lingxi had recently gotten used to Yan Yue doing this to him. He felt it was like him liking to touch Dahei, a sign of closeness. Yan Yue’s hand was a bit reluctant to leave, so he gently patted Lu Lingxi’s shoulder and said casually, “Why did you suddenly think of expanding the size of the plant nursery?”
“It wasn’t a sudden thought either, I always had this plan.” Lu Lingxi explained seriously, mentioning in passing what had happened outside today. He said it casually, but Yan Yue and Ye Kang looked at each other, their eyes darkening slightly.
What Yan Yue was concerned about was the hostility Qiu Tian Gardening showed towards Lu Lingxi. What Ye Kang was more concerned about was Lu Lingxi’s mention that the saplings that had been planted were dying.
He mentioned, as if inadvertently, “Are there many dead saplings?”
Lu Lingxi looked at Ye Kang with some surprise and nodded.
Ye Kang exchanged a look with Yan Yue and walked out of Tiny Garden on the pretext of smoking. He had to call his third brother to give him a reminder. The Fengcheng municipal greening project was proposed by the newly appointed mayor of Fengcheng, and as the mayor’s secretary, Ye Cheng had been keeping an eye on the matter. Ye Kang didn’t want his third brother to be fooled, which would be a disgrace to the old Ye family.
As soon as Ye Kang went out, Yan Yue quietly asked a few more questions about Qiu Tian Gardening. He found that Lu Lingxi was not at all aware of Qiu Tian Gardening’s hostility towards him; instead he seriously praised the other party’s good cultivation of green plants and said that he wanted to learn from them.
Yan Yue listened to his narration and his originally obscure eyes slowly lit up with a faint smile. This was good; he would rather the young man could be pure-hearted for the rest of his life, and he would be the one to block the rain and the storm outside for him.