When I arrive in good time for today’s ball, a footman directs me to the garden. I’ve occasionally snuck out during a soiree, but I haven’t had the chance to examine it in daylight. As I expect, it’s delightful. A couple of important scenes in my next book, The Ruin of A Rogue, take place in the garden of a London house but that of Beaufetheringstone House is much lovelier. Of course in helps that it’s May and not November. Still, for some things temperature isn’t important. As my hero Marcus Lithgow says, “For a rogue like me, there’s only one thing to be done with a pretty girl in a garden.”
It’s a gorgeous spring day. Lilacs and honeysuckle are heaped with flowers, drowning the London stench with the most delicious odor. A flagstone path winds through beds already aglow with spring blooms, and the first roses are in bud. Espaliered pears trees line a sunny wall. At the far end sits a miniature temple sits beneath a flowering tree.
“Good afternoon, Miss Neville.” Lady B is dressed in quite utilitarian fashion, a massive blue linen apron covering her gown and a lair of leather gloves like gauntlets reaching almost to her elbows. She wields a pair of shears that make me hesitate to get too near.
“I was admiring your garden, Lady B. You look busy. I hope you won’t think me impertinent if I say I am surprised to see you engage in any kind of domestic activity.”
“You are often impertinent, Miss Neville, and I choose to ignore it. [Completely untrue].”
“What are you doing with those?”
“What else would I be doing with pruning shears? I am pruning, of course.”
I notice a pile of branches on the ground next to a large rose bush. “Is it the right time of year to prune roses?”
“Growth follows the knife. Or in my case the shears.:
“Lord B had a statue of Albert made for my birthday a few years ago.”
With an almighty squawk Albert flies down from a tree and lands on his own head. “The sculpture is bigger than the original.”
“The size reflects Albert’s place in my affections. That is Sausage.” She points at the stone figure of a rather handsome dog.
“Sausage?” It’s not a dachsund.
“Lord B’s favorite hound.” She glances up at an upper window and waves. I spin around, hoping to get a glimpse of the elusive one but no luck. Of course.
“How did he come to have such a strange name.”
Lady B blushes. “It’s a private matter between myself and Lord B.”
Oh-kay. I quickly turn to the biggest pot of geraniums I’ve ever seen. “That is an extraordinary plant. How does it come to be so big?”
Lady B look a little worried. “I’m not sure. And the smell …”
Rashly I draw near and am nearly thrown backwards by an indefinable and quite unpleasant odor. “Whatever it is, it’s a brilliant fertilizer. Shall we hold our noses and investigate? Perhaps we could patent it.”
Lady B hands me a trowel, pulled from the capacious pocket of her apron. Gingerly I poke around in the soil around the roots of the geranium and discover
I love London gardens so I’ve provided a few pictures, none of them exactly like Beaufetheringstone House. When you’ve finished guessing the nature of Lady B’s Regency Miracle-Gro, tell us what’s blooming in your garden or window box now.