When I wrote The Sparrow Sisters I was living in London and terribly homesick for New England. I missed the sea and the salt, the wide-open sky and the seagulls wheeling overhead. I wrote The Forbidden Garden mostly sitting on my porch on Cape Cod overlooking my own (simple) gardens and listening to those darn seagulls and the thunder of the ocean over the dunes. You see, I found myself homesick again, but this time for the lush green of an English country garden, the nodding peonies and scented roses, the patter of rain and the high, sweet call of a songbird.
I write about the familiar, but it appears that I do so while I am far from that familiar place. Writing The Forbidden Garden took me back to gardens I came to know in London and the English countryside and to the people I love and miss every day. The Chelsea Physic Garden is a true secret medicinal garden in the heart of London. It is filled with botanical specimens both rare and common, each garden set like a room filled with mysteries and histories. I spent hours there when my children were small as I did in Kensington Gardens and tending my own small patio patch that backed up to three acres of communal garden in Notting Hill. Picture Hugh Grant trying to hoist himself over the garden wall with Julia Roberts and you’ll have it. In the countryside there are gardens so breathtaking, so effortless in their beauty that I could never hope to replicate them. There is Sissinghurst in Kent and the Privy Garden at Kenilworth Castle, and the precious, scented and slightly floppy garden at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage near her husband Will Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-Upon-Avon.
Gardens seem to follow me wherever I go and I can’t imagine writing stories that don’t--somehow--take a wander through a green and pleasant land. I hope you’ll join me!