This week we’re meeting garden historian Flora Stewart from The Garden of Little Rose by Suzanne Snow. This is the second book in the Welcome to Thorndale series published by Canelo.
Isn’t the cover gorgeous?
For love to grow, Flora will have to first dig up the past.
At a hen party on the remote Scottish island of Alana, Flora is dared to ask a handsome stranger to be her plus-one for the wedding. When the gorgeous Mac accepts her invite, she assumes he’s joking and thinks nothing more of it… Until he turns up at the church on the wedding day.
But Mac has an agenda. He wants to hire her skills as a horticulturist to restore the gardens at Róisín House, his home back on Alana. Flora knows she should refuse – Mac has ‘heartbreaker’ written all over him – but she can’t resist uncovering the tragic truth behind the garden at Róisín.
A heart-warming village love story for fans of Julie Houston, Victoria Walters and Trisha Ashley.
Now let’s move onto Suzanne’s interview with Flora
Hi Flora, thank you for chatting with us today. How are you?
F: It’s a pleasure, I’m really well thank you.
Can you tell us about your role on the Middlebrook estate? It sounds a wonderful place to work.
F: It really is! For anyone who doesn’t know, it’s a Georgian estate that belongs to the Garden Heritage Trust and I’m one of two assistant Head Gardeners. I joined the trust two years ago after working in private gardens. We’re still restoring the gardens and are halfway through a five-year plan.
What is it you love about your job?
F: Working outside is a major plus, and you learn to layer up and appreciate the best of the weather when you’re working outside in the worst of it. We have two apprentices alongside us and I love seeing their knowledge develop, as well as encouraging our brilliant team of volunteers. I also appreciate having the opportunity to care for gardens that were created many years ago, trying to balance their history whilst planning their futures.
Would you say that being in a garden, or having access to one, perhaps as a volunteer, is a good thing?
F: Without a doubt. There are lots of studies about the benefits of this. Working or being in a garden or green space can improve mental health, social isolation and general wellbeing. And it really doesn’t have to be a garden. Growing plants in pots in a tiny space, or having houseplants, is just as rewarding. We often have young people from schools visiting us and I love taking them around the garden. I like to think that maybe some of them will be inspired enough to consider horticulture as a career, it’s so fulfilling.
How wonderful. As a garden historian, is there a garden you’d really love to work on?
F: That’s a good question! I’m heading up to a Scottish island very soon to explore a private Arts & Crafts garden that’s been abandoned for over fifty years. On the surface it looks absolutely wild but there’s definitely a story there waiting to be discovered.
Ooh, that sounds exciting! What is it that you like about Arts & Crafts gardens?
F: I really appreciate how these designers used materials as natural to the gardens as possible and created a structure which they would soften with abundant and natural planting styles. There’s a sense of order there, but one that’s at home with nature and I love that.
Do you have any favourite plants, Flora?
F: Oh, that’s a hard one! There are so many I love, hardy geraniums and hydrangeas being two of them. If you absolutely pushed me I’d say every garden is prettier with sweet peas in it. They’re just so beautiful and rewarding, they flower for ages, smell amazing and look stunning. Growing them from seed is one of my favourite things to do.
And how do you like to relax, Flora?
F: Would it be wrong to say in a garden! I love walking, reading and seeing friends. Theatre and cinema when I can. But even though my work has it challenges, just like every other job, there’s nothing quite like being in a garden to appreciate nature through the seasons.
What reviewers are saying:
***** Oh my word, a totally captivating and uplifting story. This book grabbed me in from the first page and I was completely hooked. Beautiful descriptions of the locations and gardens, wonderful characters and friendships, this book will certainly test your emotions. A wonderfully written story.
***** I love this book. A wonderful story of three friends who go away for a luxury weekend to celebrate a hen party. However they all have a wicked streak and dare each other to do different things. Floras dare is to ask the first guy into the bar to be her plus one at the wedding. Never in a million years does she expect him to say yes. You need to read the book to see what happens to Mac, Flora and the introduction of Tamsin. Funny, heartbreaking, uplifting and love excellent.
If, like me, you’re dying to read the story you can buy the book here: Amazon
Thank you for talking to us today, Flora, we’ve loved hearing more about your work. Good luck with the Scottish garden, it sounds amazing.
F: Thank you for having me, it’s been really fun. I’ll let you know it goes on the island!
Suzanne writes contemporary, romantic and uplifting fiction with a strong sense of setting and community connecting the lives of her characters. When she’s not writing or spending time with her family, she can usually be found in a garden or looking to the landscape around her for inspiration.
Thanks for dropping by to tell us about your book, Suzanne. Wishing you many sales.
Treat yourself to a heartwarming, feel good read set in gorgeous Cornwall.
Available as a paperback, ebook or audiobook. Amazon