Wednesday, April 14, 2021

National Gardening Day: Gardening Mysteries

Today is National Gardening Day

If you follow me on Facebook you'll see that every day I post a photo of a specific flower or tree, or a meandering path "Behind My Garden Gate." I am a gardener. Although I'm known for my roses, I also have a small poison garden. There are so many ways to kill in the garden what with poisonous plants, pesticides, and tools! Agatha Christie certainly knew that. If you’re looking for ways to murder with plants (for writing purposes only!), I suggest Amy Stewart’s Wicked Plants. It’s a wonderfully illustrated reference book that also launched some great poisonous garden displays all over the US. Amy Stewart is also a mystery writer, and I recommend her historical series about the Kopp sisters. I also grow orchids, perhaps not as extensively as Nero Wolfe, but I have a nice collection. Since I live in California, there’s something growing and blooming at all times. This makes it so magical! 

Like my interest in mysteries, I came to gardening early on. My aunt Annie used to take us into the woods to identify plants, both poisonous and not. She also had a lovely garden in her city back yard. I learned so much from her. She and my mother began taking me yearly to the Philadelphia Flower Show. Such a treat. When I was nine, I picked up a flyer for mail-order miniature roses. I sent my money, and in return small miniature rose bushes appeared. My mother was flabbergasted. One, that I knew how to order and send off cash in the mail, and, two, that live plants arrived. I had neglected to mention my purchases to her. I had sent cash (not having a checkbook). Those mini-roses flourished, and I became hooked! 

In terms of mystery, gardens are such a great place to plot a murder! There are so many weapons at hand from plants (digitalis, foxglove, rhubarb, etc) to herbicides to tools. And, gardens are great places to dispose of a body. It’s not surprising, then, that so many writers use gardens and gardening in their mysteries. Who doesn’t remember Sgt. Cuff’s roses in The Moonstone or Nero Wolfe’s fantastic orchids? If you like gardens and gardening, you’ll love these two issues of Mystery Readers Journal with its rich diversity of articles, author essays and reviews.

Here's a link to the two available Gardening themed Mysteries issues of Mystery Readers Journal

Gardening Mysteries (2018)

Volume 34, No. 1, Spring 2018

Gardening Mysteries

Buy this back issue! Available in hardcopy or as a downloadable PDF.


  • Where the Wild Things Are by Meredith Phillips
  • Weeds in the Borders by Carol Harper


  • Painting the Garden by Kerry J. Charles
  • Gardening and Writing: A Natural Enterprise by Susan Wittig Albert
  • Fourth-Generation Gardener by Amanda Flower
  • Mischief and Mayhem in the Garden by Rosemary Harris
  • I Wouldn’t Leave My Little Wooden Hut by Ann Granger
  • Crisis and Opportunity by Julie Wray Herman
  • Words of Green Wisdom from Mas Arai by Naomi Hirahara
  • Signs of Spring by Hart Johnson
  • Collecting the Seeds of Stories by Gin Jones
  • Mysteries Inspired by Dirty Hands by Meera Lester
  • Two-Faced Plants: Gardening, Poisons & Medicines by Linda Lovely
  • It’s Not Always Sunny in Philadelphia… by Donna Huston Murray
  • The Exploding Compost Heap by Cynthia Riggs
  • Gardening and Me by Joyce Olcese
  • A Rose Is a Rose — Unless It’s a Poison Apple by Susan C. Shea
  • How Does Your Mystery Garden Grow? by Teresa Trent
  • The Wrong Thumbs (But At Least They Can Google) by Art Taylor
  • Ode to Her Garden by Wendy Tyson
  • Volunteers of America by Nathan Walpow
  • Trees, Flowers — Murder! by Marty Wingate


  • Murder in Retrospect: Reviews by L. J. Roberts and Dru Ann Love
  • The Children’s Hour: Garden Mysteries by Gay Toltl Kinman
  • In Short: Does Your Garden Grow Mysteries? by Marvin Lachman
  • Crime Seen: In the Garden Plot by Kate Derie
  • Real Gardening Crimes by Cathy Pickens
  • From the Editor’s Desk by Janet A. Rudolph


Gardening Mysteries (2004)

Volume 20, No. 3, Fall 2004

Gardening Mysteries
Buy this back issue! Available as a downloadable PDF.


  • “Evil Began in a Garden”: The Gardening Mysteries of Sheila Pim by Tom & Enid Schantz
  • Miss Marple & Mr. Wolfe: Classic Gardeners by C.A. Accardi
  • Weeds in the Borders by Carol Harper
  • Where the Wild Things Are by Meredith Phillips
  • Drug Decalogue by Jim Doherty


  • Ruth’s Secret Garden by Nancy Means Wright
  • All the Dirt on Heather Webber
  • The Joe Portugal Guide to The Joe Portugal Guides by Nathan Walpow
  • Rosemary and Thyme by Rebecca Tope
  • The Secret Garden by M.J. Rose
  • The Exploding Compost Heap by Cynthia Riggs
  • Dirt Under Fingernails by Gillian Linscott
  • Snake in the Garden by Kathleen Gregory Klein
  • Cotton Mather’s Garden by M.E. Kemp
  • Slugs, Roses and Murder by Norma Tadlock Johnson
  • Monet, Murder and Mystery by Jane Jakeman
  • Confessions of a Gardener’s Murderous Daughter by Naomi Hirahara
  • Weeding and Writing by Julie Wray Herman
  • Everything’s Coming Up Roses by Karen Harper
  • I Wouldn’t Leave My Little Wooden Hut by Ann Granger
  • Imaginary Gardens by Carol Goodman
  • Gardening Can Be Murder by R. Barri Flowers
  • Face Down in the Garden by Kathy Lynn Emerson
  • The Long Journey to a Blue Rose by Anthony Eglin
  • Death of an Azalea by Carola Dunn
  • Stalked by Flora (and Occasionally Fauna) by Claire Daniels (Jaqueline Girdner)
  • Saga of a Frustrated Garden Writer by Laura Crum
  • An Allotment of Murder by Mat Coward
  • Pushing Up Daisies by Kate Collins
  • It’s Wild Outside the Garden by Meredith Blevins
  • Angel in the Winds by Mignon F. Ballard
  • Gardening in Cyberspace by Donna Andrews
  • Lifescapes by Susan Wittig Albert
  • Murder in a Pot by Peter Abresch


  • Murder in Retrospect: Reviews by Carol Harper, Aubrey Hamilton, Kathryn Lively, Sandy Faust, Mary Helen Becker
  • Gardens and Gardening in British Crime Fiction by Philip Scowcroft
  • In Short: Gardens of Evil by Marvin Lachman
  • The Children’s Hour: Gardens by Gay Toltl Kinman
  • MRI MAYHEM by Janet A. Rudolph
  • Letters to the Editor
  • From the Editor’s Desk by Janet A. Rudolph


1 comment:

Judith Gonda said...

That's cool about your early interest and initiative for plants. I, too, was a child gardener, but grew corn that grew taller than me, radishes, and trees from acorns. I never thought of it until just reading your column, but I guess that's why I love writing the Tory Benning landscape architecture series so much, my love for gardens was planted way back when! Thanks also for the Amy Stewart Wicked Plants tip!