Which Came First: The Root Stock or the Rose?

Donna Fletcher CrowDonna Fletcher Crow is the author of 35 books, mostly novels dealing with British history.  The award-winning Glastonbury, The Novel of Christian England, is her best-known work, an Arthurian grail search epic covering 15 centuries of English history.  A Very Private Grave, book 1 in the Monastery Murders series is her reentry into publishing after a 10 year hiatus. The Shadow of Reality, a romantic intrigue, will be published later this summer.


Donna and her husband have 4 adult children and 10 grandchildren.  She is an enthusiastic gardener and you can see pictures of her garden, watch the trailer for A Very Private Grave, and read her international blog at www.DonnaFletcherCrow.com

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Now that scientists have decided that in the chicken-or-the-egg question the chicken came first, I suppose the answer would have to be that the Rose came first.  I was set on this not-particularly-helpful course of thought when Lelia asked me to blog on Donna Garden1how my garden has affected my writing.  Upon reflection, I think it’s more a matter of my writing affecting my garden.

I’m certain that’s true when it comes to having an excuse for the flourishing weeds and the general overgrownness of it all.  “But,” I quickly point out,  “This is an English cottage garden.  They’re supposed to be overgrown.  Think Anne Hathaway’s Cottage.”  It sounds good and I believe it most of the time.  And then, of course, I can always fall back on the crowning excuse, “I have a deadline to meet.”

DonnaGardenValerianAs to the ultimate influence, however, for both writing and garden, it has to come down to my obsessive Anglophilism.  When asked why I have set most of my 35 books in England, when I live in the Idaho desert, I rather quickly discovered that replying, “What else is there?”  wasn’t much of an answer.

So next I played around with theories of genetic memory.  What good is it having an English great, great grandmother if I can’t blame my predilections on her?  (And I did use some of Eliza Fletcher’s backstory in my family saga series The Daughters of Courage.)  But at the end of the day, I’ll have to say that the answer comes down to that indefinable matter of “calling.”  The thing I mean when I advise beginning writers to “Follow your passion.”

Donna Garden Rachel AngelThat is certainly what I have done in my lifetime of reading, beginning with the Brontes and Jane Austen; in my 35 years of writing beginning with my very first genre romance The Desires of your Heart in which an American heroine follows many of my own experiences on my first trip to England; and in my garden style which features a rose garden filled with David Austin English Roses, a curving stone path leading to a rose arbor, and sweeps of such English favorites as Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle), hostas, perennial geranium, and Valerian.

Many of these choices were growing in my daughter’s cottage garden when she and her husband went to Yorkshire to study in a theological college run by monks in The Community of the Resurrection. On my frequent visits I regularly


worked in her garden and the year my son-in-law was appointed college gardener, I had the fun of gardening beside my favorite monk Fr. Dominic.

A Very Private GraveWell, A Very Private Grave, Book 1 in my Monastery Murders, hasn’t been released yet in North America (it was a June release in the UK, but we have to wait until late September on this side of the pond), so I can’t expect any of our readers to pick up on the clues I just dropped.  Let me explain that the jacket blurb reads something like this:

Felicity Howard, a young American studying theology at the College of the Transfiguration in Yorkshire, is devastated when she finds her beloved Fr. Dominic brutally murdered and Fr. Antony, her church history lecturer, soaked in his blood .

DonnaGardenHostas & ImpatiensA Very Private Grave is a contemporary novel with a thoroughly modern heroine who must learn some ancient truths in order to solve the mystery and save her own life as she and Fr. Antony flee a murderer and follow clues that take them to out-of-the way sites in northern England and southern Scotland. The narrative skillfully mixes detection, intellectual puzzles, spiritual aspiration, romance, and the solving of clues ancient and modern.

Felicity does take passing note of the local flora as they race from place to place, but you’ll understand that chasing and being chased by a murderer doesn’t allow much time for gardening.

Ah, there— I’ve just come up with another excuse!

Please visit my website http://www.donnafletchercrow.com/ to see the trailer of A Very Private Grave on the home page and click “Come into my Garden” in the menu to see a slide show.