|The area behind my vegetable garden.|
Gardening is . . .an outlet for fanaticism, violence, love and
rationality without their worst side effects. – Geoffrey Charlesworth
On Valentine’s Day or anniversaries, lovers and spouses send roses to their loved ones to show their love. Young girls pluck petals from daisies saying “He loves me, he loves me not” to see if the object of their affection feels the same way. Who among us doesn’t feel some pleasure in seeing flowers in bloom? I love gardens, plants and flowers. A highlight for me on every vacation is taking a tour of at least one garden if not more. So feeling this way about gardens it’s understandable that my mystery series has a gardening theme. But why did the first murder in my first book, THE BLUE ROSE, happen in a peaceful tranquil garden? It’s almost blasphemous.
|A rose and delphiniums in one of my many gardens.|
We think of the garden as a place of peace, tranquility and rejuvenation, but all is not as it seems. Roses have their thorns, as I well know when last week I was pushing an overloaded wheelbarrow causing it to swerve a little and my hand got pierced by a wicked thorn. It hit a vein and bled quite profusely. Poison Ivy has been known to creep into areas hiding among the weeds where it never was before. Poisonous plants abound – not a problem for those of us who recognize them and aren’t in the habit of munching on what is not known to be edible. But if one is a mystery writer, such plants are fodder for the mind if not the palate. There’s monkshood, foxgloves, daffodils, morning glories and lily-of-the-valley to name just a few.
Still although these plants put ideas in my head for plots, it’s other things that anger and frustrate me and put murderous thoughts in my head. I get these murderous thoughts when a groundhog or rabbit sneaks under the vegetable garden fence and munches down a whole row of beans, lettuce or sunflowers just starting to grow. I’ve given up growing sweet corn because just as it starts to ripen, raccoons come over the fence and get to it first. And often when I plant anything new, I may find the new plants uprooted and drying out at a later time from skunks that dig them out looking to find grubs or earthworms under them, and squirrels and chipmunks are known to eat tulip bulbs.
|My motley crew of mostly old hens who still lay eggs.|
That’s the furry critters that cause aggravation. Birds can put holes in the ripe strawberries and eat my blueberries, too, but not enough to do much damage. But the tiny critters are another story. I hate, hate, hate slugs and Japanese beetles. They damage the leaves and flowers of plants. I used to murder slugs with salt. Now when I find them I drop them into the weed bucket for the hens or scoop them onto a trowel and take them to the chicken run and feed it to my hens. With Japanese beetles, I prowl the garden twice a day with a jar of water visiting the plants they like best; roses, beans and the Harry Lauder Walking Stick shrubs. I hold the jar with water – I used to add vinegar to it, but don’t bother with that anymore – under the spot with the beetle or beetles mating, and knock them into the water where they swim about clinging to other beetles unable to fly. At the end of each foray, I feed them to my chickens, too. There’s only one other insect I really hate and that’s the deer flies. At least they don’t harm my plants, but they sure make life miserable for me in the garden. They’re much worse than mosquitoes. The fish and frogs in my little goldfish pool seem to take care of most of the mosquitoes.
|A bird house that currently has a chickadee nesting in it.|
And that’s why I don’t find it totally incongruous to plant a murder in a lovely garden. After all, evil can lurk anywhere. Maybe the incongruity of a scene where murder doesn’t seem likely is like a person who doesn’t seem like someone who would murder. The incongruity is often what creates a good mystery.
What brings murderous thoughts to you?
Where would you best like to see a murder take place?