Frost Falls At The Potting Shed - This Writing Life #33 - Jenny Kane
Updated: Aug 28
Today, I'm delighted to welcome Jenny Kane with a guest post about garden centres, her writing life, and her new novel, Frost Falls At The Potting Shed.
Over to Jenny . . .
Frost Falls At The Potting Shed
by Jenny Kane
For as long as I can remember I’ve loved garden centres. I’m not particularly green fingered - although I wish I was – but I love being around plants, whether in my own garden or in the countryside. And, of course, within most garden centres, there lurks a café of some sort.
If there is one thing I love more than the natural world – it’s being able to enjoy a good cup of coffee while looking at flowers, shrubs, trees and so on.
And if that coffee is accompanied by toast or a scone…well, that’s heaven for this author.
I visited garden centres regularly as a child. My parents would take me each weekend – treat me to a drink and a cake – and we’d all do a crossword or word puzzle together. This tradition continues to this day, but these days they take their grandchildren instead!
As an adult, I’ve found my own garden centres to love – a particular favourite is The Old Well in Uffculme, Devon. This family run haven is the inspiration behind The Potting Shed. I can be found there at least once a week, happily munching toast, while my husband devours a teacake- watching the world go by. All human life is there! From the regulars who offer cheery greeting, to afternoon tea pensioners, middle aged couples, bored teenagers waiting in the café while their parents shop for shrubs, families trying to install café etiquette into their young children, and beyond.
Then there’s the staff! Always friendly – I know they won’t mind me calling them quirky! Full of fun, they work on in all weathers, and have thus – in their quiet way – formed the basis for the characters of Maddie, Ed, Sabi, Jem, Henry and more – and helped me turn a vague idea I had about setting a novel in a nursery or garden centre into a reality.
Frost Falls At The Potting Shed
From the author of the bestselling Mill Grange series a new exciting series perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley, Jo Thomas and Trisha Ashley!
It has always been Maddie Willand's dream to take over her father's plant nursery. But after his sudden death, she is devastated to discover that she might lose The Potting Shed forever.
Maddie's bossy older sister, Sabi, is joint owner of the nursery, and she's convinced that the best thing for both of them would be to sell up. Determined to keep the business going, Maddie can't afford any distractions, but staying focused might be harder than she thinks when – after a major garden centre chain puts in an offer – her search for legal advice throws her into the path of attractive lawyer Ed...
As frost begins to fall over The Potting Shed, will Maddie find the strength to save her father's legacy and open herself up to new beginnings?
Here’s a short extract
(Maddie and her sister Sabi, are discussing the future of the nursery with their father)
‘That’s settled then.’ Tony smiled as his younger daughter poured a fountain of tea into a row of mismatched china cups. ‘You’ll get the house and nursery Maddie, and Sabi, you’ll inherit your mum’s antique furniture and a portion of the profits from this place.’
Lifting their teacups as one, the Willand family clinked them together.
‘How about a custard cream to seal the deal?’ Maddie waved the regularly refilled biscuit tin towards her father. ‘One or two?’
‘Three.’ Tony laughed as he took a handful of biscuits before passing the tin on to his son-in-law. ‘Grab plenty Henry, or the girls will demolish the lot. I learnt that lesson a long time ago. I once witnessed them consume a packet of chocolate chip cookies in less than two minutes.’
‘A slight exaggeration.’ Maddie grinned at her brother-in-law. ‘We were helping clear The Potting Shed’s far polytunnel. Dad needed it done that day, I can’t remember why now, but there was no time for a lunch break and biscuits were the easiest option.’
‘And we were famished.’ Sabi put her palm up, refusing the offer of a biscuit as the tin continued around the table. ‘Are you sure you want to inherit all that hard work, Mads? I can’t help thinking I got the better deal with Mum’s furniture.’
‘Only because you’ve gone off gardening. Anyway, Mum’s things will look fabulous in your house.’ Maddie gave her sister a hug. ‘I can’t wait to help Dad upgrade The Potting Shed from a nursery to a garden centre.’
‘And I’m delighted to think the place will continue to flourish – or should I say blossom – long after I’ve gone.’ Tony’s habitual smile faded as he stared into his tea. ‘I can’t say discussing changes to my will is a fun way to spend a late Sunday afternoon, but once it’s done we can forget all about it and get on with living.’
‘When do you intend to start upgrading this place?’ Henry flicked through a pile of scrap paper and old envelopes on which Tony and Maddie had scribbled their plans for changing their business – which currently provided seedlings, vegetables, potted bulbs, flowers and herbs to the local shopkeepers and hotels, as well as, at weekends, the general public – into a small garden centre.
‘As soon as possible.’ Tony refilled his teacup. ‘It will take time to build up of course. But, if we are careful not to neglect our current customers, while expanding our range for sale on site, then I know we can do it. Might even have a café eventually.’
‘Sounds fabulous.’ Henry fished another biscuit from the tin.
Quiet for a moment, Tony turned to his daughters. ‘You are both completely sure you’re happy with these arrangements?’
‘Totally.’ Maddie looked at her sister.
‘Absolutely,’ Sabi agreed.
There was a clatter of china against china as Tony dropped his cup back into its saucer. ‘Then tomorrow, I’ll call our solicitor and set the wheels in motion. Then you and I, Maddie, can make a start on our plans.’
- Many thanks for inviting me over today, Lynne.
- Thank you, Jenny. Garden centres are some of my favourite places, and I look forward to reading your book.
If you’d like to buy Frost Falls at The Potting Shed, you can find it in paperback and as a download from all good retailers, including…
About Jenny Kane
‘I love Jenny Kane’s writing.’ Katie Fforde
Today, I'm delighted to welcome Jenny Kane with a guest post telling about the garden centres that have influenced her writing life, and her new novel, Frost Falls At The Potting Shed.aaa022), Winter Fires at Mill Grange (Aria, 2021), Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange, (Aria 2021), Autumn Leaves at Mill Grange, (Aria, 2020), Midsummer Dreams at Mill Grange (Aria, 2020), A Cornish Escape (2nd edition, HeadlineAccent, 2020), A Cornish Wedding (2nd edition, HeadlineAccent, 2020), Romancing Robin Hood (2nd edition, Littwitz Press, 20cent Press, 2016), and Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013).
(Bluebell Season at The Potting Shed will be published by Aria in March 2023)
Jenny has also written 3 novella length sequels to her Another Cup of... books: Another Cup of Christmas (Accent Press, 2013), Christmas in the Cotswolds (Accent, 2014), and Christmas at the Castle (Accent, 2016). These three seasonal specials are now available in one boxed set entitled Jenny Kane’s Christmas Collection (Accent, 2016)
Jenny is also the author of quirky children’s picture books There’s a Cow in the Flat (Hushpuppy, 2014) and Ben’s Biscuit Tin (Hushpuppy, 2015)
Under the pen name, Jennifer Ash, Jenny has also written The Folville Chronicles (The Outlaw’s Ransom, The Winter Outlaw, Edward’s Outlaw, Outlaw Justice - published by Littwitz Press, 2016-2020), The Power of Three (Spiteful Puppet, 2020) and The Meeting Place (Spiteful Puppet, 2019). She has also created five audio scripts for ITV’s popular 1980’s television show, Robin of Sherwood.
The Waterford Boy, Mathilda’s Legacy, The Baron’s Daughter, The Meeting Place and Fitzwarren’s Well were released by Spiteful Puppet in 2017/2018/2019/2020.
Jenny Kane is the writer in residence for Tiverton Costa in Devon. She also co-runs the creative writing business, Imagine. Jenny teaches a wide range of creative writing workshops including her popular ‘Novel in a Year’ course. (www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk)
All of Jennifer Ash’s and Jenny Kane’s news can be found at www.jennykane.co.uk