romance

The Neglected Garden opens today

The-Neglected-Garden-with-snowdrops

Happy Valentine’s Day to us all.

Today is the official launch of ‘The Neglected Garden’ and the novel is available to purchase worldwide as a paperback and e-book.

I took the photo of the book with the snowdrops in my own neglected garden, which is beginning to come back to life now that winter is nearly over. We have miniature daffodils flowering at the moment.

It’s been a long but enjoyable path to this day and, if you read the book, I hope you will enjoy it. I would love to hear from you so please send me an email by the contact button below or join me on Facebook and Instagram.

Enjoy the rest of the day!

Suzanne x

Old roses and romantic suspense

Old deep pink rose the neglected garden novel Suzanne Winterly

As the sun continues to beam down on Ireland, I'm working hard to finish another draft of THE NEGLECTED GARDEN in time to send it to the copy-editor. A cloudless blue sky and a temperature of 25 degrees centigrade are both difficult to resist when I'm used to summers that usually last about three days, so I'm allowing myself a few breaks with a mug of tea and a stroll around the garden.

The book description has arrived and, if you'd like to see it, click the link at the bottom. If you enjoy reading romantic suspense, why not sign up for the occasional update by email and I can let you know when the novel is published. There'll be an opportunity to buy it at a reduced price. 

 

Our roses are loving the sun

Our roses at home haven't been holding us in suspense. They've been loving the sun. We've certainly had seasons of extremes in Ireland this year. When I was writing my March blog with deep snow outside, I never could have imagined we'd get weeks of endless sunshine with up to 29 degrees. 

Our own well is holding up so far but families on mains water supply have a legally enforced hosepipe ban until the end of July. The drought is tough on local farmers who are struggling to feed their livestock. Irish grass is usually green and lush but this year it has turned brown and dry. Not even our lawns are growing.

Many of the old rose varieties in our garden originated in France so it's no wonder they're flowering with enthusiasm. Here are three of the best:

This is a rambler rose called Paul's Himalayan Musk and it's six or seven metres high. It needs a tree or a hedge to scramble up. I just leave it alone and off it goes. No need to prune if you have the space.

This is a rambler rose called Paul's Himalayan Musk and it's six or seven metres high. It needs a tree or a hedge to scramble up. I just leave it alone and off it goes. No need to prune if you have the space.

Great Maiden's Blush has never been as happy as in this summer's sun. It hates the rain and protests by turning brown but is magnificent this year. A beautiful, old-fashioned shrub rose.

Great Maiden's Blush has never been as happy as in this summer's sun. It hates the rain and protests by turning brown but is magnificent this year. A beautiful, old-fashioned shrub rose.

Madame Isaac Pereire is a Bourbon rose and was named after a French banker's wife in the late 19th century. I keep this one in a large container by a garden bench where I can sit and appreciate its huge, deep pink blooms and divine scent.

Madame Isaac Pereire is a Bourbon rose and was named after a French banker's wife in the late 19th century. I keep this one in a large container by a garden bench where I can sit and appreciate its huge, deep pink blooms and divine scent.

If you'd like to share your own rose photos, please send them by email or upload them to my Facebook page.  And if you've got any tips for keeping garden plants happy in drought conditions, I'd love to hear them!

May spring growth be with you

Gilly has been working on her design for the walled garden at Glanesfort (THE NEGLECTED GARDEN - due to be published in 2018)

Gilly has been working on her design for the walled garden at Glanesfort (THE NEGLECTED GARDEN - due to be published in 2018)

As I look out on my May garden, it's hard to imagine what it was like only two months ago but all I have to do is glance back at the photos in my March post to see several feet of snow. Unlike my hero in THE NEGLECTED GARDEN, nature never dwells on the past and, although spring plants are late arriving this year, they are just as beautiful and even more welcome than ever. I'm going to celebrate spring with plenty of photographs.

 

Gilly's design plan for the walled garden at Glanesfort

Leo our cat likes to think he has been helping my heroine to dream up some garden design ideas

Leo our cat likes to think he has been helping my heroine to dream up some garden design ideas

I mentioned earlier in the year that I would post my heroine's garden design plan for the walled garden in my novel THE NEGLECTED GARDEN. Here it is (see top). She's been working hard on it but has had a little bit of help. The garden has been divided into four sections or rooms. I'll go into more detail about these another month with a list of suitable plants.

 

Living in another world

THE NEGLECTED GARDEN manuscript is now back with the editor as I dream about how Gilly's plants will turn out. That's one of the best things about being a writer. I live in another world a lot of the time. Since last November, I have spent many hours at Glanesfort in Co. Kildare, the Georgian house bought by a London property developer. I have worked with Gilly in the walled garden and helped her choose suitable plants. I walked with her down to the lake and watched her employer's four-year-old boy feed his two favourite swans. I've worried with her about Marc's mysterious past that entangles her more each day and wondered what family secret he is trying to hide. 

Hopefully it won't be long before you too get a chance to meet these characters. I'll keep you posted so please come back soon or join my mailing list for updates and special offers.

 

Garden rooms add privacy and surprise

You don't have to have a walled garden to design garden rooms - use hedging instead

You don't have to have a walled garden to design garden rooms - use hedging instead

You can put garden rooms into any garden of a reasonable size. It's a great design idea for a large country garden or if you're starting from scratch with an open field around a new house. Garden rooms add privacy and surprise. We created them in our own garden but used beech hedging to separate the rooms as we had no walls. So, even if you don't have a walled garden, you can still create an interesting and unique space that flows from one section to another. 

 

Spring narcissus and tulips

Back to my own garden which is often an inspiration for my writing. April was cold and wet so spring flowers arrived late. Daffodils took a battering from the snow in March but bounced back to prove how tough they are. Narcissus poeticus "Old Pheasant's Eye" (a favourite of my grandfather's) is the last to flower with us and what a finale it provides! It has beautiful single white flowers with a round pheasant's eye in the centre. Its wonderful scent makes it a fine cut flower, if you can bear to pick it. If the weather is bad, it lasts longer indoors and gives you a chance to admire it close-up.

Unfortunately I don't remember the name of the white tulips (top right) but they open like stars to catch the sun and close again when the light fades. Like all white flowers, they add a touch of magic to a garden in the evening. The pink and white tulip Angelique (bottom two photos above) is a recent favourite. This peony-type opens like a rose and is one to plant in bulk so that you have some to pick as it is a charming and long-lasting cut flower. 

 

Spring wildflowers

Our garden cowslips have invited their family and friends to stay

Our garden cowslips have invited their family and friends to stay

Cowslips are enthusiastic self-seeders in gravel - or anywhere else where they feel at home

Cowslips are enthusiastic self-seeders in gravel - or anywhere else where they feel at home

An oxlip is a hybrid of a primrose and a cowslip and it is quite rare where we live

An oxlip is a hybrid of a primrose and a cowslip and it is quite rare where we live

And lastly the wildflowers. They've been fantastic this spring. Perhaps it's just because I really appreciate them after our unusually long winter here in Ireland. Clumps of violets and primroses peep at me from the hedgerows as I walk the dogs. Wild garlic along the avenue has burst into a mass of creamy flowers.

Yellow cowslips in the garden invited all their family and friends to stay and self-seeded in the gravel. Our one and only oxlip - a hybrid of a primrose and a cowslip and quite rare here in the Midlands - has grown in size since last year. 

I love to hear about other people's gardens and their plants, so please do get in touch and send photographs. You can reach me by email using the contact button at the end of every page or join me by signing up for my newsletter. I'm also on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. 

Take care and happy gardening until next time.

 

Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling - The novel

Leo has that crazy look in his eye when he's really into a novel. "Touch it and I'll scratch you." I have the scars to prove it.   

Leo has that crazy look in his eye when he's really into a novel. "Touch it and I'll scratch you." I have the scars to prove it.

 

Aisling was born as a Facebook page and attracted such a huge following that she turned into a book

“Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling” is hilarious, moving and a little bit sad all at the same time. Written by two graduates of journalism, Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen, it’s an Irish internet phenomenon. Aisling was born as a Facebook group and attracted such a huge following that she turned into a book. There’s a waiting list to get into the Facebook group now. I should know, because I’m on it.

 

Reared to be thrifty without notions

Many of us have a little bit of Aisling in us: the country girl in the big city who is reared by her parents to be thrifty and without notions, but is led astray by others who prefer taxis to buses, designer handbags to the fakes and a bit of winter sun to escape Ireland’s monotonous grey winters. She’s disappointed with her steady GAA boyfriend of seven years because her friends are getting hitched and he seems strangely reluctant to pop the question.

 

A romantic holiday to Tenerife backfires

Aisling decides to take matters into her own hands and, with her usual efficiency, gets boyfriend John and herself onto a Ryan Air flight to Tenerife with the minimum amount of luggage (so as not to boost Michael O'Leary's bank balance). A visit to an Irish pub and it's all downhill from there when she tackles John about his matrimonial inclinations. Back in Ireland, disillusioned and tearful, she dumps the boyfriend and propels herself into a new life in a penthouse apartment in Dublin with a glamorous colleague. Will she find a new love in her life? Will she ever forget John? 

 

Aisling is like Bridget Jones but more Irish country

If I have to compare Aisling to another literary heroine, I’d suggest Bridget Jones. She’s the same lovable, vulnerable type but more Irish country. And did I mention the drink? Oh my God, there’s lashings and lashings of drink.

I also learnt to drive in a tractor as my father thought I could do no harm in a wide open field and, although I’m probably old enough to be Aisling’s mother, or Mammy, I’m loving this novel.

Find out more about Aisling and what other readers think of her here: 

 

 

Walled gardens - past and present

Hello and welcome to my blog. I've called it a scrapbook because some posts may be longer than others. I hope you enjoy it and if you'd like to share any stories or information, please get in touch. 

My debut novel, THE NEGLECTED GARDEN, is due to go back to the editor soon and, if you'd  like to be kept updated on progress, please sign up here

 

A walled garden in the past

I've always loved gardening and walled gardens. The setting for the novel is based on a house where my grandparents lived years ago. The walled garden at Glanesfort is much the same size as theirs was - about an acre - with vegetables and flowers. My grandmother loved her border for flower arranging and filled the house with her creations. My grandfather was an organic gardener - not so common in Ireland then - and I can still recall the flavour of his fruit and vegetables. I remember sneaking into the garden as a child with my brothers and devouring Royal Sovereign strawberries when no one was looking. We'd eat peas straight from the pod and juicy tomatoes, warm from the greenhouse. 

 

Favourite rambling roses

The garden was constructed in the Georgian era and roses scrambled over its walls. My grandfather's favourite rambler was Albertine. I still grow Albertine in my own garden and, although it only flowers once a year, its copper pink buds that open and fade to pale pink are beautiful. This rose needs lots of space as it is vigorous. Another rose that requires even more space, preferably a tree to scramble up, is Paul's Himalayan Musk. Ours grows up a hawthorn and is twenty to thirty feet tall. Fabulous in the summer against a blue sky. Again, it only flowers once but when it does, it's spectacular. 

 

The heroine's garden design

When Gilly Townsend comes to Glanesfort, her brief is to design a more formal garden for the owner's tenants. She decides to divide it into four sections, with a pond and fountain, a rose garden, yew hedging and gravel paths. I asked a garden designer to draw up some ideas and this became Gilly's plan in the novel. I'll post a copy of her design later on and, who knows, you might even be able to use some parts of it yourself. 

The walled garden is a huge challenge for Gilly and she's excited about the project. She makes good progress but unfortunately Denys Fletcher, the London property developer who owns Glanesfort, has a secret past that begins to overtake them both. Perhaps I'd better not tell you any more. You'll have to read the novel to find out what happens!

 

Pauls Himalayan Musk.jpg

Paul's Himalayan Musk

A rose that loves climbing and easy to grow. Just point it at a tree and off it goes.