Archive for the ‘inspirations behind Mr Rosenblum’ Category

Mr Rosenblum’s Open Garden!

garden at the Old Smithy

bog garden towards church

My mum, Carol, is a fantastic and passionate gardener, and it’s she who helps me with all horticultural references in my books. I love writing about nature but without a little nudge my peonies would be blooming alongside my primroses, and my lilac would be lovely in July. (Yes, I felt you gardeners shudder).

Sadie’s garden in ‘Mr R’ is inspired by  Carol’s (though Sadie is far more tolerant of weeds and don’t even ask what Carol does to the deer who dare to eat her roses). I’ve watched as over a decade my parents have turned a couple of fields into an idyllic English cottage garden. There is a riotous herbaceous border filled with giant alliums (mum calls them ‘space rockets’), poppies, hellebores, irises, lilies, roses, daisies, lupins and wigwams of Carol’s prized sweat-peas. The striped lawns roll down to a stream, and a bridge leads to a series of bog gardens and ponds — one white, one yellow, one blue — and paths lined with towering bamboo snake to a bench beneath a willow arbour.

Beyond the bog gardens and stream is a field full of grass and wild flowers through which my dad, Clive, has carefully mown a series of paths. There are plantings of young trees — fruit trees and hard wood — and at the bottom lies the grandchildren’s pride: a secluded tree house. And, I can’t possibly discuss the garden without mentioning my dad’s favourite part of the garden: the veg patch. During the summer we enjoy his courgette flower risotto, lettuce plucked straight from the ground as well as home grown strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, black-currants…

From the garden you can see both the thatched cottage which inspired Jack and Sadie’s home as well as Bulbarrow hill. If you have enough cider, you might even see the flags of Jack’s golf course or the tail of a woolly-pig.

For two days this summer Carol and Clive are opening the garden as part of the National Garden’s scheme and are featured in The Yellow Book (if you don’t know what the yellow book is, just make sure you say it in hushed and reverent tones).

‘The Old Smithy’ garden, Ibberton, Dorset,  is open on Sunday 27th of June between 2-5.30pm. Admission is £3 (children free) and all proceeds go to charity. There are plants for sale and cream teas will be served at Ibberton Village Hall. The postcode for your sat nav is DT11 0EN

I will be there collecting tickets and failing to answer questions about plants.

Leave a comment below if you need further details.


Novel giveaway…

Simon over at Savidge reads had grilled me… And is giving away copies of ‘The Novel in the Viola’ — so if you fancy a free copy, follow the link!

The summerhouse at dawn

Mr S was up at dawn to take this picture of the summerhouse. See all of the plums on our tree? It’s going to be a bumper crop — I might have to raffle off some plum soup.

I received a wonderful and terribly sad letter from an old friend this week. I visited this lady, Mrs D, in San Fransisco a couple of years ago when Mr S and I spent a wonderful day with her and her husband, a charming man of almost ninety, filled with irrepressible humour and optimism. It was one of those afternoons which even at the time I knew that I would remember for the rest of my life. I sat in their beautiful light-filled house in Piedmont, with its glimpse of the bay and knew even then that I would be looking back at this very moment. We listened all afternoon as the couple told us stories of their youth in Germany before the war, and in London during the 1940s, only pausing to eat ice-cream which Mr D adored and insisted that we share.

The story which remained with me from that day is one which will be familiar to any of you who have read ‘Mr Rosenblum’. It is about a refugee couple who, newly arrived in London, have no money to buy one another presents on their first anniversary.  When the man arrives home, weary after a long day’s work, he finds his wife standing naked on the table. As she sees him, she starts to dance in the gaslight whispering ‘happy anniversary, darling’.

In the letter, Mrs D tells me that this was not the end of the story. It finished two weeks later when husband and wife were killed during an air raid in the Blitz. And yet, somehow, Mrs D says that she likes the new ending that I have written for them. Somehow, they are held in the pages of ‘Mr Rosenblum’ forever dancing in the gaslight.