Sunday, 19 June 2022

Mystery in the Garden by Author and Master Gardener Emma Lane...

For years I chastised myself for the plants that died in my little kitchen garden. Located outside my window, I envisioned enjoying the beauty of the perennial flowers as I sipped my morning tea and ate breakfast. (I gave up coffee years ago.) Year after year I tried many plants and shrubs: roses, coneflower, coreopsis, it didn’t matter what I tried. Even the Bradford tree we planted a few years ago failed to thrive. It hasn’t died yet, but not a healthy branch on it. This story has different characters that all play an important part in the mystery. 

1. Elm trees   2. Spirea shrubs  3. Bearded iris  4. A wild flower called ‘Elecampane,’ an elegant, tall perennial in the sunflower family. They all combine to hint at a solution that should have occurred to me years ago but didn’t. 

Everyone knows of the sad demise of the majestic elm trees. This property, an older home, had stumps in both front and back yard. One of the neighbors suggested they were once the poor dead elms. On the way ‘back forty’ there were piles of huge trunks which we assumed were the elms. 

The kitchen garden was formed in an oval adjacent to one of those large stumps. Chipmunks made happy trails all through and I imagine underneath. They played riotous games of tag visible out my over-looking window. It was such a perfect location to build a garden already growing in my imagination.

Now on the edge, native winterberry, male and female, reside happily with pink spirea, a low shrub, one of the first to bloom in the spring.

An offshoot thrust out from the oval is planted in happily thriving deep purple iris. That's it. Nothing else has survived over the years. The center is full of opportunistic with no redeeming traits. 

I have a fondness for wildflowers and have gathered enough seeds over the years that many thrive around the yard. Enter our last character in the mysterious failure of my kitchen garden. Elecampane colonizes, slowly and non-invasive, but it likes company. I welcomed each and every single one of those graceful and elegant tall perennials as they established themselves in a circle around my non-existent kitchen garden.

As I sipped my tea, with chin in hand, I studied those plants. “Like guardians around the failure of a garden,” my muse whispered. Epiphany is a strange word with unclear meaning in my opinion. However, I do think I had one as I gazed at my poor weedy garden in which nothing much ever grew. That was NOT an elm tree stump.

Recently an enormous walnut tree had had to be removed. I learned the meaning of the word ‘allopath,’ a chemical repellent emitted by the roots of the walnut tree and select other plants. Even after the tree is removed, the chemical will remain in the soil effectively repelling, or even killing most plants that try to invade its perimeter. I knew of that wicked talent. It never occurred to me that an elm. . . .it wasn’t an elm, was it? That stump was clearly something different and more ominous. It was obviously a walnut or some other species with the same ability to deter any invading plant.           

There stood the soldiers (large stalks of elecampane) arranging themselves just on the edge of the bed broadly hinting to me the root (sorry) of the problem. I am not a terrible gardener, just a bit dense. Once I dismissed the idea of that being an elm stump, everything else fell in place. Shew. Now for the solution.           

A willing creator of a mini patio for plants only has just finished placing the last of the concrete blocks. It’s still a work in progress. I need to move the large blue birdbath and more pots of flowers, but at last, I have a kitchen garden. Already I sigh with pleasure at the sight first thing in the morning.

Here is a glimpse into my latest Cozy Mystery. It is the 4th in the Detective Kevin Fowler series.

When is it not fun to be a blond? 

What happens when a blond beauty hits town like a tornado stirring up memories and causing turmoil? Detective Kevin Fowler and his wife, the former Beverly Hampton, owner of the local newspaper, are settling into blissful married life. Although Beverly is sanguine over the demand on Kevin’s time by the good people of Hubbard, she is more than dubious when his duties include the escort of a drop-dead gorgeous female from his past.

There is some concern over the persistent vandalism of residential mailboxes, but an infamous arsonist has decided peaceful but dull Hubbard would make a great place from which to operate. He brazenly locates down the block from the detective and his wife.

What bait and tackle shop in the village has a dual purpose? Kevin ponders why two goons have invaded town shooting at and attempting to kidnap and murder three women. A state patrolman, aptly nick named Rooster, teases Fowler at the riotous scene of a traffic accident where the press, not the police, wins the day.

Another mystery and adventure with a satisfying ending that unfolds in peaceful Hubbard, New York, small-town Americana, where Detective Kevin Fowler keeps an ever-vigilant watch.

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Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes cozy mysteries as Janis Lane, Regency as Emma, and spice as Sunny Lane. 

She lives in Western New York where winter is snowy, spring arrives with rave reviews, summer days are long and velvet, and fall leaves are riotous in color. At long last she enjoys the perfect bow window for her desk where she is treated to a year-round panoramic view of nature. Her computer opens up a fourth fascinating window to the world. Her patient husband is always available to help with a plot twist and encourage Emma to never quit. Her day job is working with flowers at Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own. 

Look for information about writing and plants on Emma's new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma's face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out the things that make Emma smile on Pinterest.


  1. Welcome to my virtual patio, Emma! Thanks for sharing your gardening grief with us, and what you did to make your garden spectacular. All the best with your new cozy mystery, my friend!

  2. Loved the mystery of the failing kitchen garden! It looks beautiful now.

  3. Been so busy just got around to checking. Thanks for the post. Hope you enjoy.

    1. You're very welcome, Garden Guru! Wink. I did indeed.