Forget-me-nots are one of summer’s many beautiful flowers. They grow in clusters in varying shades of blue and are almost fairy-like in their daintiness. They are small and unassuming — yet packed with significance.
In my novel The Garden House, the flower, and more particularly, its name, takes on a special meaning. They are related to Miranda and her memories of when her children were young, and are significant to the secondary plot involving the mysterious William Priestly.
In preparation for the new tenant, Miranda plants flowers outside the garden house and then comes inside to clean it.
Tired, she sat down on the floor, resting her elbows on her knees. Then with a sigh of fatigue she stretched out, the hardwood floor feeling good against her back.
She let her eyes wander over some of the details of her beloved garden house – the Dutch blue of the dresser and window trim, the pillows and curtains she and Clara had made. They had spent so many hours over the years down here – painting, sewing, transforming the run-down garden house into a charming, livable cottage. Clara had loved the profusion of forget-me-nots that surrounded the garden house, and decided to christen the cottage the Forget-Me-Not House. It had seen many tea parties and birthday celebrations, and Clara’s favorite, the fairy parties.
Later, Miranda shows the garden house to William who decides that he will rent it for the summer.
It’s all very comfortable. It feels – ” he looked around for the words to describe it. “It feels like – a real home.”
Miranda laughed. “It is a real home – an extension of the house.” She gazed lovingly at the garden house, the window boxes and potted flowers. “A lot of happy memories here.”
William stepped off the porch and looked at the garden house from a few paces back, clearly admiring it. He noticed the small hand-painted sign nailed above the door, and read, “The Forget-Me-Not House.”
“My daughter named it that when she was little. But somehow we always refer to it as the Garden House.”
About this time of year I start to think of gardening. I look out at my snow-covered window boxes and imagine them filled with geraniums, petunias, and thousand-bells.
I see my brick steps covered by the latest snowfall and remember the year I filled terra cotta pots with flowers in purple, rose, and blue, one pot for each step, and how happy they made me every time I left or returned home. I look at my little patch of New York City garden, and wonder which annuals I will plant this year, how many I can squeeze in next to the perennials.
My novel The Garden House is set in Seattle, which has a nearly year-long growing season. In such a place, gardeners — such as the book’s main character, Miranda — would already be planting potted flowers and enjoying early blooms.
Potting sheds and garden rooms would be hubs of activity, crowded with tools and pots and packets of seeds, alongside open bags of potting soil and well-used gardening gloves.
However, for those of us still in the heart of snowy winter, a little armchair gardening is just thing to weather the cold.
Once in a while I put out a request for book reviews. I’m always trying to increase my numbers, especially on Amazon and Goodreads, as it leads to greater discoverability.
If you have read The Garden House, I would deeply appreciate a review (and by that I mean a few words or even a simple star review).
If you have not read The Garden House but would like to and are willing to leave an honest review on Amazon, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you a free ebook through BookFunnel.
And to all of you who have left reviews, thank you ever so much. Your stamp of approval means the world to me!
The novel The Garden House is set in the Pacific Northwest, with most of the action occurring in Seattle. Other books in the fledgling series might be set on the Oregon coast, or perhaps the San Juan Islands, or even — if shop owner Paula gets her way — the flea markets of Paris.
I lived in Seattle for seven years and I visit my sister in Oregon once or twice a year. I’m always struck by the breathtaking beauty of the landscape.
One of the things I love most about the Pacific Northwest is that spring arrives so early in the year.
As I thrill at the inch-high green shoots of crocuses in my tiny garden patch, I imagine The Garden House’s main character, Miranda, already surrounded by spring’s beauty.
I see her out in her garden on a cool morning holding a steaming cup of tea, or on her hands and knees, turning the soil to plant a box of pansies or brushing aside a few dried leaves to uncover a cluster of grape hyacinths.
Or just sitting quietly on a garden bench, taking in the colors and scents of early spring.
In The Garden House, Miranda’s friend and neighbor, Paula, is the owner of several gift shops. They are filled with vintage jewelry, antiques, and old china from flea markets, garage sales, and estate sales, as well as a few hand-crafted items.
Throughout the year, Miranda contributes wreaths and bouquets from her garden to add to Paula’s displays,
and at certain holidays, like Valentine’s Day, she creates mini-bouquets to be given as gifts.
Valentine’s Day is Miranda’s favorite time of year to shop at Paula’s gift stores. She always discovers some small treasure to add to her home,
or to give as a gift, especially to her daughter, Clara.
Paula’s shops offer a sense of discovery, and delight in adding small touches of beauty to the home.
“The sun shone on the garden, thick with late summer flowers and early autumn blooms.”
Though most of the story of The Garden House takes place over summer, the book ends with the beginning of fall, and a sense of change. I imagine the main character, Miranda, strolling through her garden at this time of year, gathering a few autumn leaves that have fallen to the ground and clipping blooms for displays around her home.
She would use certain flowers and berries and turn them into wreaths,
or pair them with candles to create a cozy fall ambiance.
Most of the cut flowers would become arrangements that Miranda would place on bookshelves, counters, and tables throughout the house, with one special bouquet for the dining table.
I imagine her preparing one of her special meals for her children who would visit over the weekend, or perhaps her friends next door would stop by for dinner.
Miranda would add leaves and moss, or branches of berries and a few apples to the dining table to give it an autumnal feel.
And if the weather was mild, she would choose to have dinner under the trees on her beloved deck.
As the autumn days grew cooler, Miranda would take a moment in her garden to curl up on a bench with a shawl, or find just the right spot to enjoy a cup of hot cocoa and good book.
Long summer days mean that we can spend more time out of doors. And one of the best places to linger in the summer twilight is in a lovely garden. There’s something about candlelight and dinner in the garden that is absolutely magical.
Though I can count such dinners I’ve experienced on one hand, they stand out in my mind. Some memories shine more than others, like tiny jewels in an inner treasure chest — clearer, sharper, more durable.
One such memory is of an impromptu dinner I once had with friends in Seattle. A guest was visiting from Switzerland and we decided to have our dinner outside, just beside the flower garden.
We pulled out the kitchen table, draped it in a lace tablecloth, and added details to make the dinner even more special — fresh flowers from the garden, antique water goblets and an Art Deco silverware set that belonged to my grandparents, and a tiny salt and pepper set — green and white enamel owls. One of my roommates, who was attending a culinary arts school, created a sumptuous meal full of summer freshness — I remember a cold blueberry soup with creme fraiche swirled on top and a salad with orange nasturtiums from the garden.
I never made the connection before, but surely that evening found its way into my novel The Garden House, which is set in Seattle. There’s a scene where the main character, Miranda, sets a beautiful table on the garden deck and enjoys a lovely summer evening with her husband and a few friends.
The Italian poet and author Cesare Pavese said, “We do not remember days, we remember moments.” I wouldn’t be at all surprised if those words came to him as he sat in a summer garden at evening.
In my novel The Garden House, the main character, Miranda, often takes a cup of tea out into her beloved garden and curls up on a bench as she takes in the beauty of her flowers. Her garden offers both solace and pleasure. It’s the perfect place to read a good book, to visit with a friend, or to sit quietly and enjoy the simple tranquility of nature.
“Strange how a teapot can represent at the same time the comforts of solitude and the pleasures of company” ~Author Unknown
“Find yourself a cup; the teapot is behind you. Now tell me about hundreds of things.” ~Saki
“Tea is quiet and our thirst for tea is never far from our craving for beauty.” ~James Norwood Pratt
“You can’t get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” ~C.S. Lewis,