A Good Home, Twigs in My Hair - A Gardening Memoir

The Story Behind the Story

I remember the day when CBC Radio host Shelagh Rogers and her colleagues Jacqueline and Erin came to interview me at our old farmhouse on the northern edge of Toronto.

It was summer 2014 and a day like the one pictured on the cover of Twigs in My Hair

Created with GIMP

My first book, A Good Home, had been recently published, and I, who had interviewed hundreds of people on television, was terrified. Of forgetting, of stuttering, of other painful things resulting from a car accident.

Wise woman that she is, Shelagh asked me to stroll with her around the gardens before the interview.

Blog Photo - Afternoon Tea Shelagh and Cynthia in Garden

Blog Photo - Afternoon Tea Garden

My friend Marilyn Mirabelli prepared tea for everyone. “Everything goes better with a cup of tea,” she said, trying to calm my anxiety.

Blog Photo - Afternoon Tea Ladies

The interview complete, we sat outside and enjoyed ourselves. Marilyn regaled us with stories about the history of the afternoon tea tradition in Britain. We heard names like Queen Victoria and Anna Russell, Duchess of Bedford.

Blog Photo - Afternoon Tea pink cup and saucer

I remember the tea party, but almost nothing of the interview.

Much later, I remembered this:  Shelagh asked if I was writing a sequel.  I said I was terrified of writing a sequel because I’d have to revisit my journals — and that was too painful.

No way. I’d come too far to go back.

Blog Photo - Cynthia Reyes on The Next Chapter

Instead, I said, I was working on something fun — a gardening book! It was, in fact, almost complete.

But life went and did what life does.

Something unexpected happened. It led to the writing of An Honest House, the sequel I had dreaded.

Book cover - An-Honest-House

It went on to win an award and much critical acclaim for its raw honesty. But writing it traumatized me. The gardening book was shelved and forgotten.

Now, five years after I first wrote that gardening memoir, I look at the cover and feel a bunch of differing emotions.

  • Surprise. That we (Hamlin and I) and Mother Nature created such a beautiful garden.
  • Gratitude. That God graced us — my husband in particular – with ideas and  stamina to care for it. Hamlin built those garden beds and created the garden structures by himself.
  • Delight. That the book is finally published.
  • Satisfaction. That Hamlin’s photos and my story reflect a real life. Many images are gorgeous, but because the book is a memoir, we chose photos of real gardens and a real family. No staged or airbrushed photos here!

TWIGS -3D Cover Black BG

I see memories everywhere in this book cover. Most are good, a few are painful, and all in their own way, are precious. 

Almost every object you see has meaning for us.

Look closely at the boxwood semi-circle behind the round garden bed.

Twigs in My Hair - Photo of Arbour and boxwood circle and veggie garden to right

Now look at the biggest of the boxwoods, given to us in the 1980’s by a revered gardening teacher, Donald Moore. You’ll meet him – and the boxwood — when you read Twigs in My Hair.

Of course, I should apologize to Shelagh Rogers for misleading her, and for the book being years late. But hey! We finally got it done!




48 thoughts on “The Story Behind the Story”

  1. I’ll make no comments on books being late; I’m of the opinion that they come in their own time (or so I tell myself). I’m just glad this one is here, now. Congratulations, again.

      1. Then – I’m working on it. Rewriting is done, readers are reading, blog posts are being written…

    1. I do agree, Laurie. We can help things along but every book or story comes in its own time. So glad that your garden story is here, Cynthia. Congratulations to you and Hamlin.

  2. I echo Kerry’s thoughts: this book came to fruition in its own time and when you were ready for it. Congratulations Cynthia. Now I’m wondering what will come next!

    1. Hi Sandra:
      Rest should come next! But now we’re on to book blessings and launch, author appearances, working with the publicist, AND did I tell you? Our daughter and son-in-law are expecting this autumn. We are so happy with that news, best of all.

  3. Congratulations on many fronts, Cynthia, the new book is out, and a grandchild is on the way! Amazon notified me my copy of “Twigs in my Hair” has now been shipped and I should have it soon.

    1. Thanks and thanks again, Lavinia. I can hardly wait to get your feedback when you receive the book. I still don’t have a copy, so I have not seen the book for myself. American readers are sending excellent feedback and I want to hear yours too!

  4. The title is inspiring , and the content of the book is a pleasure for the sight . bravo to you , Cynthia, and your husband to have realized such beautiful and refreshing garden.
    Love ❤

  5. Brilliant. And as other folks have said, great title. And we’ll Duke for finally getting it out there. I look forward to reading it soon.

    I hope it does every bit as well as the other books – or even better!



  6. I am so looking forward to reading this book, Cynthia (it’s on a growing list of things I want to order). I’m not a gardener, but I sure do appreciate those who have that magic touch (which you and Hamlin do.) I have no doubt it’s just wonderful.

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