Let’s Talk with Diane A.S. Stuckart

I’ll Never Leaf You!
By Diane A.S. Stuckart

Tomorrow is Arbor Day, celebrated annually on the fourth Friday of April here in the US. The holiday has its roots (pun intended!) in Nebraska, where the 19th century pioneers who first settled there lamented the territory’s lack of trees. According to the Arbor Day Foundation’s website, Nebraska newspaper editor J. Sterling Morton (later secretary of the Nebraska Territory) led the call for an official day of tree planting in what would eventually become the Cornhusker State. The result of that first holiday was almost a million trees put into the ground. Morton’s idea swiftly branched out (hee hee!), and by 1920 Arbor Day was being celebrated by more than 45 states and territories.

And, why not? What’s not to like about Arbor Day? It’s an unassuming holiday that requires no gifts, no greeting cards, no decorations. Moreover, it promotes a cause that anyone can get behind. If you choose to celebrate (and countless schools and communities do), all it takes is planting yourself a tree. Which I’ve done on more than one occasion over the years, though not necessarily on Arbor Day. (The accompanying pics are from my property…by the time this blog entry is posted all the trees should be fully leafed.) But lovely as the results are, landscaping is a lot of hard work…and even more so when you must keep up an image just as my cozy sleuth, Nina Fleet, has to do in my Georgia B&B Mystery series.

Fortunately for Nina, she has the services of the foul-mouthed gardener, Hendricks, whom she “inherited” along with the Queen Anne house which she has converted into a bed and breakfast inn. Hendricks never actually appears in any of the books—at least, not so far. But he is mentioned in each story, and his unseen presence allows me, the author, carte blanche to landscape my fictional property as elegantly as I want to without having to show my protagonist doing all the upkeep. So, what will we find in Fleet House’s gardens?

In addition to the requisite magnolia in the front yard, one outer wall of the rear detached garage is covered in climbing heritage roses. Those blowsy, fragrant blooms played a part in book 1, PEACH CLOBBERED. The property also features a fabulous Shakespeare garden…a large, circular raised bed with walking paths and a three-tiered fountain in its center. The garden itself is divided in quarters, each section devoted to plantings found in various of Shakespeare’s work. That garden was featured in book 2, PEACHY SCREAM. Of course, the peach tree in Nina’s backyard (quite possibly a holdover from a long-ago Arbor Day) gets mentioned in each story, mostly because Nina harvests its fruit to serve to her B&B guests whenever it is in season.

How do YOU celebrate Arbor Day? Do you eagerly plant trees, yourself, or would you prefer to have your own Hendricks to handle the landscaping while you kick back under the magnolia with a glass of iced tea? Anyone who comments will be entered to win a signed hardback copy of PEACHES AND SCHEMES. Comment by midnight Sunday, May 2, to be entered in the drawing. 

While you’re here, enter our Booklover’s Bench contest. It runs from May 1-18. We’re collecting entries for a book giveaway from our vault by one of our Booklover’s Bench authors. Click here to enter after May 1!

Comments

  1. Sadly, except for zucchini, I’ve never met a plant that can withstand my lack of green thumbs. Everything else, either I kill through benign neglect or the rabbits and squirrels eat. 🙁

    • Lois, that’s pretty much me, too. My favorite success story, though, is frangipani aka plumeria. A few years back my boss brought in a huge box of sticks to work. She said she’d trimmed her frangipani trees, and if anyone wanted their own, all you had to do was grab a few sticks, use a little root starter on the end, plant it, and voila. I took three sticks. Two of them actually rooted, and now we have two big flowering trees with zero effort on my part. That’s the kind of gardening I like!

  2. Growing up in the city. I don’t recall any properties with gardens. However, I enjoy visits to the Boston Public Gardens and the Arnold Arboretum.

    • That’s too bad…I wish more city people would take advantage of window boxes like they do in Europe. They add such a vibe to a street. But it’s good you have such lovely gardens to visit. It is amazing just how magnificent most public and museum gardens are. I especially love themed ones.

  3. We hired landscapers to redo the front of our new property. Next month or so, we’ll do the backyard. I’m in favor of hiring help. We use a lawn service too.

  4. We also have a gardening service. We’d always done those things like mowing, pruning, etc, ourselves, but I’d rather give someone else the work and spend my time doing something else. About a year ago, we lost a lemon tree in our backyard and we were finally able to plant a new one about a week ago. Hopefully, it will grow nice and strong in its itty-bitty space. Fingers crossed! The first thing we noticed was that hummingbirds started showing up almost immediately. Yippie!

    • You know, Terry, that is one thing that for some reason we never get at our place…hummingbirds. And I have no clue why as we have plenty of things that are supposed to attract them. I guess I need to work on an official hummingbird garden and see if I can snag their attention next year.

  5. Martin Hill Ortiz says

    If I had to be a tree, I would like to be a poplar. Then I would only need “U” to be popular.

  6. How do I celebrate Arbor Day? Since I live near the woods, I celebrate Arbor Day by praising God for His beauty and leaving trees be so the birds can make their homes in the trees and nearby so they have a home too. Also celebrate Arbor day by pruning and nurturing existing trees so they grow bigger and more mature to give us beauty.
    Would love to read and review book in print
    Hope I Win

    • That’s a lovely sentiment, Crystal! The lot across from my house finally sold and the new owner started clearing. Lots of brush and junk trees came down but fortunately he left a nice perimeter of native pines and palms. But I felt so bad for all the critters who were displaced after so many years. That’s why we haven’t cut down the tall trunks of a couple of our palms that died years ago…two families of woodpeckers build nests in them every year. 🙂

  7. maggietoussaint says

    We’ve done a lot of planting at every place we’ve lived. I love plants, whether they are flowers, bushes or trees. When the kids were smaller, we planted Arbor Day trees in scouts. That was an awesome feeling. We need trees and plants on the Earth to change carbon dioxide (which all humans exhale) into oxygen. So, even though I am allergic to most flowers and pollens, I keep them around me. who doesn’t like breathing?

    • I know, it’s so hard when you are allergic. Lots of our trees in Texas made my allergies worse, but since I’ve been in Florida with totally different flora I suffer way less in the spring and fall. Yep, breathing is a GOOD thing. 🙂

  8. NOTE: PLEASE COMMENT BY MIDNIGHT SUNDAY MAY 2 TO BE ENTERED IN THE DRAWING FOR PEACHES AND SCHEMES!

  9. cherylhollon says

    After we moved to an 8th floor apartment, we were stunned to realize how many trees are in the St. Petersburg downtown area. They make a wonderful canopy for shade and birds.

  10. As I read this, my Hendricks, which is a team, is mowing the lawn, blowing the leaves, and basically making sure the two plants out front are trimmed….entire time on the postage size yard….maybe 7 -8 minutes. But, that’s the stage of my life I’ve reached…give me a small yard, but keep it up while I use the time to do something else. Ironically, there was a time we had a much larger yard, and I loved tending the flower beds. Something about planting azaleas, running my hands through the dirt, and waiting for things to blossom was fulfilling. Now……time is a matter of balancing activities and that one has lost out.

    • Debra — we live on 1.25 acres and used to do all the mowing and such ourselves. But it basically took up at least a full day every other weekend to maintain. Finally, we hired a crew to do the lawn (which was a leap as we are not the type to hire out work). Seriously the best money spent not to lose a precious weekend day when one works fulltime at a day job. Of course they don’t do it nearly as well as I (and have run over a tree and broken a few solar lights) but they do it a heck of a lot faster and so the tradeoff is worth it.