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.
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.
My friend Marilyn Mirabelli prepared tea for everyone. “Everything goes better with a cup of tea,” she said, trying to calm my anxiety.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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”
I love the title of this new book. If you are interviewed, make tea party a pre-requisite. Wishing you abundant book sales and years of gorgeous gardens.
I love your replies. And thank you. From your lips to God’s ear.
You and your husband have come a long way. I think I would have given up gardening. This is a delightful story of tea and how your book got delayed but another one was created.
I gave up, Jo Nell but the crazy man wouldn’t.
Can’t wait to read it and see Hamlin’s photos. Naming plant material as I look at these pictures, questions later!?:
Thanks. Yes, later, Amy!
What a great story and storyteller you are Cynthia. I appreciate your honesty humility and vulnerability. Congrats on completing another book project. I bet it will be another hit.
Awww. Thank you, Brad, for always supporting my writing. I am not a poet like you!
Your stories touch hearts and inspire people.
Your gardens look beautiful! Looking forward to receiving my copy of your book in the mail, this Friday they say.
Thank you, Fran!
There is a time for everything. This is the time for Twigs in my Hair!
I was thinking that today. Thanks, Paula.
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.
Is this your way of saying: “Don’t nag me, Cynthia for my own book being so delayed?”
It might be – except you don’t nag!
Okay. Consider this a nag.
Then – I’m working on it. Rewriting is done, readers are reading, blog posts are being written…
Great news. I will visit your blog. Been on another planet.
Glad you’re back.
Congratulations, Cynthia! Your garden is breathtaking.
Thank you, Jill! And congrats on all your books!
A very nicely written explanation of the why and the how your new book came into being, Cynthia. Congratulations again!
Beautiful! No book before it’s time. Took me years and years to come up with “Maya.”
Darn autocorrect! Should be “its”.
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.
And such a lovely book it is. Looking forward to reading it.
I am, too.
Such an amazing journey!
What a great story! Many congratulations on the publication of your latest book. X
A time for every purpose under heaven. You’re writing for you, as well as for us, so you need to listen to your own heart! And you have.
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!
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.
Oh gosh – what a busy time for you! But what joyful news. A season of blessings for you all 🙂
Congratulations, Cynthia! It looks lovely!
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.
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!
An inspirational post
Thank you, Derrick.
Here’s to a lot of sales and happy readers. 🙂
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.
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!
Well done, week done. Why auto correct continually substitutes done with duke is beyond me. 🙄
What a journey you’ve been on Cynthia, and I’m so glad that we’ve been able to share that journey with you.
Thanks, Andrea. I am grateful for every single good thing that happens on this journey. It’s a blast!
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.