Wild Designs was my third book and was inspired by a bit of research I intended to be used in book two, The Rose Revived. I had gone with a friend to research a local garden designer, now more famous for being the mother of Hugh Fernley Wittingstall. She is called Jane. She was the first woman to have a garden at the Chelsea Flower Show and her stories were so inspiring I knew the subject needed a whole book, not just a strand.
Of course times had moved on a lot since Jane’s garden and now men and women are pretty equally represented. I found it quite difficult to get someone who was doing a garden to let me go behind the scenes and research but my then agent, Sarah Molloy got me into the Harpers’ and Queen’s garden, courtesy of Clifton Nurseries.
Through them I managed to get a ‘build up’ pass which mean I was working for the garden and volunteered to get tea whenever anyone needed it. It was enormous fun and such a revelation. Seeing whole trees being moved about by crane, fig trees encased in polythene with heaters, trying to get the leaves to open, and molehills turned into mountains (give or take a few tons of earth) was inspiring.
Lots of it I had to make up of course. I couldn’t have got a pass to let me be at Chelsea when the Queen went round. Spoiler alert, I cheated and sent my heroine to the loo.
I put all my life into that book. At the time I was a school governor and as such was invited to be a helping adult when the school (primary) went on a trip to France.