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Monday, 29 June 2015

This Writing Life...Summer Inspiration

With a heatwave forecast, I'm trying to get out of the office as much as possible. I've been taking some pictures around  the garden. What do you think?

High summer is hard on the flowers. The roses hang their heads in the heat, and the petals soon drop, fluttering through the air like confetti. As we've had lots of weddings in the village this year, we know all about that!

The lily in my greenhouse sends up two spikes of flowers like this (below) every year. I was sent a packet of seeds as part of the RHS seed distribution scheme, and sowed them carefully in a pot, following all the instructions. Eighteen months later, I got fed up of lavishing care on a pot of bare compost with no sign of any seedlings, so I tipped the compost out on the greenhouse border.

The following spring, an unusual weed popped up. As birds and insects are forever importing unusual plants into our garden, I give every weed a chance to turn into something I can identify. You never know when an ugly duckling will turn into a swan. It's not often I get something as beautiful as this lily, though. This is only a common Lilium Regale, but I grew it myself from seed (or rather, it grew itself) so that makes it more precious to me than any expensive variety from a plant nursery.

The only problem is, this lily is in a really inconvenient place. it's right by the greenhouse door,  and so close to the path you have to brush past it to go in and out. It's growing so well in that spot,  I'm afraid to move it. With this lily, like a lot of plants, studied neglect works better than tender care. It's dong fine, and I don't want to upset it.

When I open the greenhouse door each morning the gust of warm, richly perfumed air is a real treat. In hot sunny weather like we're having at the moment, the flowering time is only a couple of days before the individual flowers fade, but in cool cloudy weather each one can last for over a week.

I'm working on the next book in my Princes of Kharova series for The Wild Rose Press (you can see more about the first two titles, His Majesty's Secret Passion and Her Royal Risk here) at the moment, so I'm taking a holiday from the indoor keyboard to write outside. It's a shame to waste this beautiful weather when the English Summer is usually nothing more than "Three fine days and a thunderstorm"! I'll be chasing shadows around the garden, as with our climate we always get too much of a good thing.  A few years ago, our house was cut off by snowdrifts from the main road half a mile away. I couldn't get my car out of the garage for three weeks. Now we've got some sun, we don't know when it will rain again. We have water butts collecting the run-off from every roof here at Tottering Towers, so we can usually water the garden whatever happens, but the runner bean plants can never seem to get enough to drink.  In a drought, I have to save all the washing-up water to pour onto them, as well. Our collection of potted blueberries gets first call on the "soft" water from the rainwater tanks. Their containers stand in troughs, to save every drop of water. Blueberries are originally bog plants, so they need all the rainwater they can get. The runner beans aren't so fussy, and will drink anything.

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