Much earlier this year I began to cast about for an alternative market for my writing. Needless to say, that market and I had to have something in common, if only to allow me to write about what I already know and to keep the research to a bare minimum.
So, once I put aside any military or security-related projects I was left with either woodworking, furniture restoration or gardening. I have no interest in working on military or security projects right now, and I surely don’t want to invest in loads of photography which woodworking or furniture restoration would require.
That left me with gardening, which, it turns out, is a very large market, indeed. But there are lots and lots of books and magazines on gardening, and they all depend on loads of pretty, well laid out photography to attract the attention of potential readers. But I don’t want to do that.
What I am going to do is to write on Roses, and focus on what I know about planting, pruning and caring for the lovely critters. I’ve done it for years.
What few of you know is that my first fifteen years of working for a living were entirely spent in grounds work; formal botanic gardens, commercial greenhouses, ritzy golf courses, private homes and large corporate headquarters. And almost all of them had rose plantings of one sort or another.
I learned the gardener’s trade from a few people who grew up in it. In fact, I can honestly state that I grew up in it, crouching at my grandmother’s feet (well, her huge black brogans, anyway). She came over to America from Hungary in 1917, and when I met her in Orlando in 1954, her Hungarian accent was still very prominent. But she came from a family of orchardists and cut flower growers near Budapest and knew the business inside and out.
My intention is to focus on what those glossy magazine-style gardening books you see in hardware stores and those many books you can find in bookstores don’t spend a lot of time on (and if they do it is usually in a technical language few people can do anything about, since their eyes glaze over so they can no longer see the words on the page).
Right now I have over half of the text written and the majority of the photography is edited and pencil sketches extracted and saved. I hope to have the remainder of the text done by the end of this week.
I am going to provide the WHY behind the proper techniques professional gardeners (as opposed to day labor workers pushing mowers and walking with leaf blowers on their backs) use to plant and care for roses. Most gardeners have little knowledge of rose care, in any event.
It really can be very specialized work. While roses are at heart briars, commercial roses are almost all grafted, which carries its own issues, and getting the most out of a rose does require some basic knowledge and an understanding of what is going on under the ground and how it affects the plant and the blooms.
So that is my latest project. I hope to have it out some time this fall, complete with a few pencil sketches based on digital photographs to illustrate some of the more important issues people have to deal with in caring for these unique and interesting plants.
Once “On Roses” is published for the Kindle, I will be back to writing the fifth novel in the Terry Rankin series. It doesn’t even have a name yet, though, and I have little or no idea what it will be about.