Fruitful Florida
woman-in-blue palm-tree penny-kathy
Photo credit: Mary K. Shaughnessy

Our trip to the Sunshine State exceeded our expectations. Southern hospitality reigned from Wellington to Delray. We encountered no rain or humidity, just breezy, warm weather.

Our second spring book tour built on the momentum of last year’s trip to Charleston, and a year of more talks and tours of the garden here on Walnut Hill. The trip to Florida this year was a great launch to our 2017 season.

Kathy started in Wellington, home of the Winter Equestrian Festival. Fellow Hollins alum and hostess Mary K. Shaughnessy, longtime rider and competitor, gave, with her husband Dennis, a luncheon in their home. Overlooking a lake, the house is surrounded by tropicals with only three familiar names: hibiscus, oleander and bougainvillea.

Prompted by a question from another Hollins sportswoman, Mary Watkins, Kathy spoke informally on how fiction and poetry writing led to garden writing and the book On Walnut Hill. After an amazing coconut dessert, Kathy signed books and learned of the many connections between the horse and garden worlds. Almost every woman present had a relative who was a landscape architect or passionate gardener.

Two days later Kathy joined Penney at the impressive Delray Beach Public Library, where The Grass River Garden Club hosted a well-attended talk. Penney and her husband A.C. had driven across the state from Boca Grande to stay nearby with longtime Wyoming friends Robin and Bill Weiss. Robin is a member of the active, 80-member Garden Club of America affiliated club.

For more than a year, we had corresponded with Jan Sommers, the club’s program chair, who invited us to speak. Jan anticipated and implemented every detail, including critical tech support. A warm and responsive audience greeted us and filled the room on March 8. After we spoke, we signed books; then co-presidents, Patsy Burke and Carolyn Patton, and Jan Sommers hosted a festive luncheon overlooking the ocean and Gulf Stream. How relaxing after four busy days to sit among congenial women and look out on that beautiful blue Atlantic.

On March 9 we returned to Baltimore with our book boxes empty, orders for more, warm memories of new friends and old, and new plants to research.