by Emma Lane
I love geraniums. No, they won’t survive over the winter here in deep snow land. But geraniums will tolerate the dry air inside your house over the winter. They do need a strong dose of daily sunshine, but you will find the perfect window. Water sparingly and don’t feed until spring. I try to keep in mind that geraniums thrive in the desert with only an occasional taste of moisture. I hunger always for fresh flowers and geraniums reward me well into the dark days of winter. I take several colors and repot them all in the same pot. Yep, I crowd them. They don’t seem to mind. I keep the old blooms cut and harvest fresh blossoms often. When the forsythia shows gold outside, you can give your geraniums a shot of liquid fertilizer. Then fresh foliage will get your juices rising and mood lifting as you get ready for a new spring.
Monarda is a genus of wildflowers in the mint family. The red one is native to Central NY, but several colors can be found over a wide swath of the US. It’s a great perennial with many names: Oswego Tea, Bergamot, Monarda, and Bee Balm which is a remedy for after a run-in with the little buzzy critters. These plants can grow tall and, as a member of the mint family, will be robust in the garden. Allow them plenty of room. They are also a favorite of hummers. Hardy to at least zone 4 and maybe colder.
Now that your plants are tended to, sit back and enjoy a good book. May I suggest a popular Regency of mine?
Miss Amabel Hawkins acknowledges her unusual upbringing, but she thinks James Langley, the Duke of Westerton, might be a tad unbalanced when he protests her efforts to right his badly managed properties. The duke, who has been away on the king's business, demonstrates no respect for the beautiful but managing Miss Hawkins. Amabel has taken refuge at Westerton, fleeing from a forced marriage to a man who claims to be her relative in order to gain control of her young brother's estate.
The Duke arrives home to find his estate under the firm control of a beautiful but managing female. His suspicions are fueled by his recent task of spy-hunting and he wonders if Amabel Hawkins is just who she seems. While a dastardly spy lurks, a wicked man poses as her cousin threatening to take over the guardianship of her young brother. Amabel might be falling in love, but she knows for certain the duke would never approve of a meddlesome woman, and she decides to flee his estate. Will the duke finally realize the true value of the woman he loves or will his prejudice ruin his chances forever?
Fatigue and the effects of the brandy on top of the ale now gave his gait a distinct wobble. He chuckled, amused at his condition.
As he reached for the portrait of great Uncle Barney, he lurched into the back of the red leather sofa in front of the cosy fire. “Deuce take it,” he exclaimed when a rounded arm rolled into view. He spotted the gentle curve of a hip and walked around to the front, where he spied a tumbled haze of dark curls hiding a face. It is indeed a female—a sleeping female.
Who was she? The gown was too rich for his household staff. Curious, he knelt beside the sofa.
“Only one way to find out,” he whispered and moved one dark curl. He sat back, satisfied when a handsome face swam into view. She sighed and rolled over, revealing a generous figure and a pair of rosy lips. She might be Sleeping Beauty—but not one of my relatives. He leaned over and kissed those tempting lips.
As he lingered there, she sighed and came partially awake. He could not resist. He deepened the kiss and sounds of satisfaction like yum and umm came from those delicious lips. Her hand stroked his face, then reached around his head to pull him closer. Delighted with this turn of events, the Duke of Westerton complied enthusiastically and extended an arm around a slender waist. How much of the ale and brandy had he imbibed? Dizziness overcame his senses as he slid down on the floor and knew no more.
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Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes under several pen-names. She lives with her patient husband on several acres outside a typical American village in Western New York. Her day job is working with flowers at her son’s plant nursery. Look for information about writing and plants on her new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma's face.
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