Gardening & Marriage, Twigs in My Hair - A Gardening Memoir

A Garden and A Love Story

Will a marriage survive a partner who asks a flower fanatic: “Can you eat flowers?”

Writer Paula de Ronde reviews Twigs in My Hair – A Gardening Memoir

 

THE PROVIDER AND THE BEAUTIFIER

Photos courtesy of Hamlin Grange

Cynthia Reyes, author of A Good Home, An Honest House and co-author of the Myrtle the Purple Turtle series of children’s books, has now written Twigs in My Hair: A Gardening Memoir.

Anyone familiar with Cynthia’s previous books knows that the underlying theme is her love of home and family.  In Twigs in My Hair, she invites us to enter into her passion for gardens, her own and those of friends with whom she shared that passion.

Blog Photo - Tulip red and yellow CU

In writing that is almost lyrical at times, Cynthia takes us on a tour.  She is the guide that shows you how it is done.  Building a garden takes time and patience.  Cynthia is the artist, the earth is her canvas; Mother Nature is her helper, and sometimes not. 

Mama's Garden Pathway May 2015

The text is beautifully enhanced with the photography of Hamlin Grange, Cynthia’s husband.

Blog Photo - Garden 2018 Bee on Blue shrub

Cynthia painstakingly guides us through the creative process of making a beautiful welcome mat into her home.  She is the creative master of all things blooming while Hamlin, ever practical, tends the produce. 

Blog Photo - Late summer garden tomatoes

What a great combination: the provider and the beautifier.

Blog Photo - HG photo of Red Poppy

Twigs in My Hair: A Gardening Memoir,  is an analogy for life itself.  The garden evolves as the seasons do and as we do. 

The garden has late and reluctant bloomers as we humans do.  Will that wisteria ever bloom? 

The most lush and beautiful gardens require hard, sometimes backbreaking, work. But oh, what beauty results and how satisfying to see your efforts rewarded.   That is the same as in life itself.

Blog Photo - Crocus in Spring

The book is laced with Cynthia’s warmth and humour.  How do you get a fox to pee in a bottle?  Will a marriage survive a partner who asks a flower fanatic: “Can you eat flowers?”

I found something extra too.  As an accomplished author, Cynthia is able to say a lot with just a few apt words and phrases.   

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This is a memoir that goes beyond the passion of two gardeners.  It is also shines a light on the love between two people who grow with their gardens into a deeper unity with each other, with their family and home.

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The photos above may be used only with the express written permission of Hamlin Grange.

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Paula de Ronde  loves books. After a career as a librarian, she now writes a blog — stories about her 51 year love with her husband Bert.

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The Garden at Summer’s End

There’s a  freshness and tranquility in the late summer garden that extends into early autumn.

Blog Photo - Late Summer Garden Hosta and J Maple

The colours are more muted now, but no less impactful.

Blog Photo - Late summer garden hosta and birdbath MCU

Blog Photo - Late summer garden Hydrangea and chairs

Green leaves are greener, the pinks of sedum and blues of caryopteris can be seen more clearly.

Blog Photo - Late summer garden deep pink sedum

Blog Photo - Late Summer garden blue flowers of caryopteris

Even the trees are slow to turn orange and red this year, as if ceding the moment to the softness of this season.

Many tomatoes are still green on the vine.

Blog Photo - Late summer garden tomatoes

So this is how the summer ends:

Not with a bang, but a flower. A flower and some fruit…

Blog Photo - Late summer garden apples turning on tree branches

… and a branch of colour, peeking out to signal that autumn is on its way.

Blog Photo - Late summer garden Small Maple branch turning orange

I wish I were the kind of person who totally absorbs herself in the great now of it all, blocking all thought of the passage of the season.

But you may remember: I failed Mindfulness & Meditation 101.

As with the great times with loved ones, I’m greedy to want this moment to last.

Blog Photo - Late summer garden hosta white fragrant CU2

And when autumn blazes in with its glorious colours, I’ll find myself wanting to fix that in stasis too. For just a few more weeks.

It’s all a wan thought, a vain attempt, at holding off winter, you know.  We are a winter country but I’m not a winter person.

Blog Photo - Late summer garden - chairs and umbrellas CU

Note to blogger friend, September 9, 2019

“Yes, Laurie, there is a bittersweetness in the air, a time when we lose one thing and gain another, and even the flowers that bloom now are a reminder of the end of the flowering season.”

Note to my journal:

“I’ve long thought that gardening is a form of art. The soil is our canvas; we paint with flowers, shrubs and trees — always paying respect to Mother Nature. So let us add gardening to the canon of visual and natural arts, and recognize that we are, perhaps, the most fortunate of artists.”

 

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

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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!

 

 

 

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Great News

Two lovely things just happened:

Twigs in My Hair, my new gardening memoir — with beautiful pictures by Hamlin Grange — hit the  Number 1 spot for New Releases in its category when it was released on amazon.com yesterday.

My great thanks to everyone who is buying the book!  You made this happen!

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And author-musician Kevin Cooper has just released a conversation-interview he and I had lately. It’s fun and I enjoyed every moment of it. Thank you, Kevin!

https://authorkevincooper.com/2019/08/31/an-interview-with-cynthia-reyes/

Wishing you a lovely weekend, whether it’s late summer or early spring wherever you are.

Cynthia.