by | Apr 23, 2021 | The Writer's Life | 13 comments

by Carla Neggers

April showers (and snow!) bring May flowers might be a cliché but I do love spring. As a writer and an avid reader, sometimes I have to remember to pull myself out of my head and tune in to the world around me. Nothing makes that easier than wandering in a flower garden. There’s creative magic in putting aside thinking about to-do lists, plots, deadlines and such and instead just noticing details like raindrops on a rose, bees humming in catmint or the sun on an about-to-open iris.

Gardens are always on my “must see” list when I travel. Hiking trails, bookstores, museums and historic sites, yes, but too, but I’m happy to eat a cheese sandwich out of my backpack if there’s a garden on the day’s schedule.

And if I just happen upon one? That’s great, too. That was the case with a castle walled garden early on a misty Irish April morning after a long transatlantic flight. Great way to wake up!

Snow was still melting on our hilltop in Vermont on an April trip to Ireland a few years ago. It was lush and green there, no surprise. I was in the midst of an intense, last-minute manuscript proofread and indulged in a stay at Marlfield House, part of the Wexford Garden Trail. Walks in their stunning garden were a welcome, and needed, break. Even now, I can see the tulips just starting to bloom. My father was Dutch. I love tulips.

When our kids were young, we’d pack up the car for April vacation and drive from our home in New England to visit my husband’s hometown near Nashville. We’d get a jump on spring on the way south and always spent a day at Cheekwood Museum and Botanic Garden. We love to visit anytime of year but their spring displays are spectacular.

I’ve read so many books set in Edinburgh and loved getting the chance to visit the Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh the June before the pandemic hit. It’s as amazing as its name suggests.

There are just so many wonderful gardens to visit!

I admit I don’t always stay tuned in to my surroundings in my own garden. I grabbed the clippers the other day and headed out to the roses. Forgot my gloves. Plotting the latest work-in-progress, you know? And I drew blood. Last week, I was deep into reading a mesmerizing Tana French novel and thought about it while raking what passes for grass in the side yard.

My wanders through gardens aren’t research, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t ended up inspiring a detail, a scene, a character or even an entire book. In the moment, though, putting aside any expectation of usefulness and noticing what’s around me helps me reconnect with why I became a writer in the first place, and why I love to read. And it makes for a great outing.

Do you have any gardens you recommend? And are April showers bringing May flowers where you live? Thank you for visiting us here at Rogue Women Writers!

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  1. Chris Goff

    Absolutely love flower gardens. Spent a lot of time in England in flower gardens. This weekend, a real treat though. My youngest daughter, son-in-law and grandson are going with Wes and I to Tulip Time in Holland MI. The Tulip Festival kicks off officially on May 1st, but we figured we’d try and beat the crowds!

    • Carla Neggers

      I hope you take photos, Chris! Have a wonderful time.

  2. Karna Small Bodman

    Carla is so right about the inspiration that lovely gardens give to us….they certainly play a role in the settings in her terrific novels. If anyone has a chance to visit Naples, FL — one must-see is our gorgeous Botanical Garden….featuring huge displays of plants and flowers from around the world as well as our well known orchids (which also line “Alligator Alley” — the highway between Naples and Miami.)

    • Carla Neggers

      I’ll have to visit next time I’m there! Sounds wonderful.

  3. Lisa Black

    I confess, gardening is about my least favorite activity. I don’t mind planting something once, but after that it has to be indestructible and maintenance-free! You sound like my sister–when we come back from overseas trips I will have umpteen pictures of buildings (preferably with no people visible), Mary will have pictures of people in uniform working (cops, painters, construction guys) and Susan will have thirty-seven up-close photos of flowers.

    • Carla Neggers

      I love buildings, too! 😉

  4. Jenny Milchman

    This whole post makes me think of The Secret Garden, my favorite book as a child, and then my daughter’s too. Thanks for the lovely pics and reminders–especially with snow still flying where I live 🙂

    • Carla Neggers

      Love that book! Need to get it for my granddaughter. I thought of it in the castle gardens I’ve visited.

  5. Gayle Lynds

    What a visual feast, Carla. I so admire your consistency in visiting beautiful gardens. They feed the soul. I’m a great lover of Monet’s garden and have tried endlessly to create my own in each house I’ve lived. I’ve never really succeeded, but have enjoyed the effort a lot. I look at your photos and I’m in awe, and feel terribly happy. Thank you for a wonderful blog.

    • Carla Neggers

      What a great goal, Gayle! Enjoying the effort speaks to us as writers, too.

  6. Carla Neggers

    What a great goal, Gayle! Enjoying the effort speaks to us as writers, too.

  7. Pat Marinelli

    Great post. So enjoyable. Spring is my favorite time of year, mainly, due to all the lovely flowers. I’m not a gardener myself, but I do enjoy other peoples’ work.

    • Carla Neggers

      Thanks, Pat. I enjoy other people’s work, too! 🙂