By Linda Lovely
Spring is easy for gardeners. Practically everything blooms. At least in the South, it’s hard to have a garden that doesn’t look gorgeous in April. Flower beds filled with crocuses, daffodils, and irises paired with feathery white dogwoods, azaleas in every hue, and purple rhododendron.
Autumn is tougher. Yes, I just bought a flat of pansies to give a splash of color that will last from now until next spring. But, since I like to get maximum payback on my elbow grease investment, I concentrate on planting perennials and bushes that flower at least twice a year.
Here are some of my garden favorites. These pictures were taken on September 20 in my yard. (Well, I did crop out a few nearby weeds.)
Miss Huff Lantana-Comes up faithfully every year and blooms for me until frost.
Variegated Liriope-Great edging to brighten a shady path. Hard to kill. Drought tolerant. Blooms late summer into fall. Year-round leaf color.
Encore Azaleas-Bloom twice a year. For me, fall is always the more prolific bloom period. Blooms last for WEEKS.
Knock Out Roses-Start blooming in May and keep right on chugging into October. Disease resistant and pretty forgiving. A beaver chewed my largest bush down to a couple of jagged stumps. Came back next season.
Orange Tea Olives-We have three kinds of tea olives in our yard. Terrific privacy hedge. The bushes (ours are about 10-feet tall now) have green glossy leaves year-round. PLUS they bloom multiple times a year, including right now. The smell especially from the fragrant variety is unbelievable and heavenly.
Loropetalum-I love these bushes (can be trees) with their green/purple foliage and feathery pink flowers. In spring, they look like cotton candy. But, depending on the year, they also bloom in fall.
What do gardening and these plants have to do with writing?
Just like perennials and flowering bushes continue to provide enjoyment season after season, series—novels that feature the same main characters and themes—pay continuing dividends for authors and fans. With a little tender-loving care, the same characters can prosper for many years as we follow them in new stories/adventures. A bonus is that we get to know the characters better with each new book in the series. That’s why I write two series: Marley Clark Mysteries and Smart Women, Dumb Luck Romantic Thrillers.
So why is my new novel, Lies: Secrets Can Kill, a standalone historical suspense novel? Stories my relatives told me about life in the 1930s and the colorful Street Fairs that were a tradition in my hometown of Keokuk, Iowa, called to me to write a story set in that time and place.
Colorful annual flowers and one-of-a-kind books sometimes captivate me as a gardener and a writer. Sometimes it's impossible to resist intriguing departures from the perennial/series rule.
Do you read/write series and stand-alone books? What’s your preference?
For more info about LIES: http://windtreepress.com/portfolio/lies/