Sunday, 25 January 2015

Expert rates The Lost Orchid

I appreciate this latest review of The Lost Orchid because it's from a genuine orchid expert.

Check out the souped-up cover, too. Maybe it's time for a new look?

**** ‘Intriguing’,  by Art Chadwick, Chadwick Orchids, VA
published in newspapers in Virginia and North Carolina, plus various orchid magazines
Orchid hobbyists, who are curious about the early days of the sport, will get a kick out of a new book called The Lost Orchid, by Pamela Kelt. The story, although fiction, is based on factual accounts from the late 1800s in England. The author has, no doubt, spent countless hours researching old newspapers and botanical journals in order to give us an insider’s view of what it must have been like to operate an orchid business during this swashbuckling time period.  
A retired plant hunter named John McPhairson runs an impressive enterprise called McPhairson’s Nurseries – “Veritable Kingdom of Orchids” – in Warwickshire, England with rows of glass greenhouses and a conservatory. He knows orchids very well, having travelled the jungles in search of rare plants for decades. He is quite opinionated and “judges a man by the orchids he keeps.”
His niece, Flora McPhairson, has fond childhood memories of playing games in the greenhouses. After being jilted on her wedding day, she returns to the nursery to work and discovers much more than mere flowers. She also longs for a man who is currently deep in the wilderness looking for new species. She reads a letter from him, “I have found a truly remarkable Cattleya in bloom. It has a mystic quality that suggests a great past or a marvellous future.”
Readers are introduced to old-time orchid auctions in which vast sums of money are bid on the latest epiphytes brought in from the wild – maybe a single plant, maybe large lots. Ten thousand specimens of Odontoglossom crispum are being offered. Frenzied bidders have to trust the companies making the claims as the out-of-bloom plants may not be what they say they are.
John McPhairson is pioneering the concept of orchid hybridising – creating a new ‘strain’ by cross breeding two naturally occurring species. This new idea is being met with mixed reviews. While his loyal clients can’t wait to see what the new flowers look like, others are sceptical and protest on religious grounds saying that “hybrids are an aberration of nature.” His competitors must think he is onto something because they are doing everything possible to steal his pollination secrets.
Along the way, we learn about a high society event called a “Grand Flowering” in which a lavish party is thrown for a new orchid’s blooming. We also witness a booby-trapped stud house in which scorpions are released when a stranger is detected as well as a rival’s attempt to wipe out a prized cymbidium crop with an infestation of insects.
The Lost Orchid is just one of seven intriguing novels by Pamela Kelt who lives in Kenilworth, England. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and she has promised a sequel. 
 

Monday, 19 January 2015

Big chill

Yes, it's cold. It's been cold since ... Well, since I wrote A Walk in the Park in December.
I decided to write a ghost story about a frozen lake, and ever since, I've been haunted by frozen water. I've never seen so much - and this year was noted for its warm weather. It's almost creepy.

Frozen lakes, frozen rivers, frozen stream, frozen dewponds, frozen ditches. One might almost say Dickensian.

 
 
 
 
I've been collecting the photos to prove my point. Abbey Fields and Guy's Cliffe.

Just checked the weather. Set to be minus 3 tonight. Brr.

By Pamela Kelt

Friday, 16 January 2015

Gothic fest

I'm in the habit of taking my little compact camera as I bimble about.

Currently, I'm working on the sequel to The Lost Orchid, a Victorian mystery. I was in the need of some Gothic inspiration, so I had a wander through my photos from the past year.

I popped them into Pinterest - do take a look.

They're from Kenilworth, Edinburgh and Southport. I've used these for scenes in The Lost Orchid and short story, A Walk in the Park. They're also coming in handy for The Blackfern Conspiracy - botanical mayhem in the Trossachs!

By Pamela Kelt

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Review of The Lost Orchid

I'm delighted that expert orchidologist Art Chadwick has enjoyed The Lost Orchid, a Gothic tale of botanical shenanigans.

Inspired, I've added a page of reviews of all of my titles I've received over the past year or so. Lovely to see so many four- and five-star comments. Read them all here.



**** 'Orchid hobbyists, who are curious about the early days of the sport, will get a kick out of a new book called The Lost Orchid, by Pamela Kelt. The story, although fiction, is based on factual accounts from the late 1800s in England. The author has, no doubt, spent countless hours researching old newspapers and botanical journals in order to give us an insider’s view of what it must have been like to operate an orchid business during this swashbuckling time period.  

'A retired plant hunter named John McPhairson runs an impressive enterprise called McPhairson’s Nurseries – “Veritable Kingdom of Orchids” – in Warwickshire, England with rows of glass greenhouses and a conservatory. He knows orchids very well, having travelled the jungles in search of rare plants for decades. He is quite opinionated and “judges a man by the orchids he keeps.”

'His niece, Flora McPhairson, has fond childhood memories of playing games in the greenhouses. After being jilted on her wedding day, she returns to the nursery to work and discovers much more than mere flowers. She also longs for a man who is currently deep in the wilderness looking for new species. She reads a letter from him, “I have found a truly remarkable Cattleya in bloom. It has a mystic quality that suggests a great past or a marvellous future.”

'Readers are introduced to old-time orchid auctions in which vast sums of money are bid on the latest epiphytes brought in from the wild – maybe a single plant, maybe large lots. Ten thousand specimens of Odontoglossom crispum are being offered. Frenzied bidders have to trust the companies making the claims as the out-of-bloom plants may not be what they say they are.

'John McPhairson is pioneering the concept of orchid hybridising – creating a new ‘strain’ by cross breeding two naturally occurring species. This new idea is being met with mixed reviews. While his loyal clients can’t wait to see what the new flowers look like, others are sceptical and protest on religious grounds saying that “hybrids are an aberration of nature.” His competitors must think he is onto something because they are doing everything possible to steal his pollination secrets.

'Along the way, we learn about a high society event called a “Grand Flowering” in which a lavish party is thrown for a new orchid’s blooming. We also witness a booby-trapped stud house in which scorpions are released when a stranger is detected as well as a rival’s attempt to wipe out a prized cymbidium crop with an infestation of insects.

'The Lost Orchid is just one of seven intriguing novels by Pamela Kelt who lives in Kenilworth England. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and she has promised a sequel.'



By Art Chadwick, Chadwick Orchids, VA
to be published in newspapers in Virginia and North Carolina, plus various orchid magazines

Thanks, Art! The first third of The Blackfern Conspiracy is already done!

Monday, 5 January 2015

Planting ideas in my head


Since September, I've been volunteering at Guy's Cliffe Walled Garden, where a group of folk are working on restoring a Georgian/Victorian kitchen garden to its former glory. Click to see the video.
http://youtu.be/tJqZGlAcOiQ


Chatting to David, just one of the history buffs, it appears they seek inspiration from another walled garden just down the road. Called Packwood House, it's a National Trust property which has recently undergone some major improvements.

Anyone in Warwickshire will tell you it's the one famous for its yews.

But there's so much more. Off I went, with barely two bars on my camera battery, and spent a happy morning in the walled and ornamental gardens. 

Luckily, it was a fabulous day, and the colours fairly zinged with colour.


The gardeners there have given the old kitchen garden what they call a contemporary twist and every section looks like a Pinterest board, it's so full of horticultural inspiration.

 

Despite the fact that it was New Year's Eve, the garden was open (bonus), and the beds full of interest, proof positive that one shouldn't despair of one's plot in the winter months.

I particularly loved the auricula theatre, a triangular construction for primulas - now filled with weird and wonderful gourds. There was a quirky Heath Robinson mole deterrent, great space-saving ways of storing plant pots, pine cone decorations ... all manner of things to delight the horticulturally inclined.

I am already looking forward to returning in spring. It's been great inspiration for the sequel to The Lost Orchid, a Victorian tale of botanical shenanigans. Called The Blackfern Conspiracy, I shall be including all manner of 19th-century details.

As a bonus, Packwood is also bound to be further inspiration for another short story.

A Walk in the Park, a wintry ghost story, did rather well on Smashwords, so I thought another similar botanical one might be fun for the vernal equinox. We shall see ...

By Pamela Kelt

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Frozen garden

Fabulous frosty, foggy morning.

My daughter is so fond of her new SLR camera that she suggested a walk en famille. Both of snapped away ... then I looked out of the back door. Our garden was just as beautiful.








By Pamela Kelt
Author of A Walk in the Park
free on Smashwords