Sunday, August 2, 2015

Why #Gardening is #Therapy by Karen Rose Smith

I bury the fact in a few interviews I've given that I have a condition called fibromyalgia which affects the muscles. I've had it for thirty years and it's one of the reason I began writing. After back surgery, I participated in years of therapies from biofeedback machines and swimming to meditation and self-hypnosis. A few years ago I fractured vertebrae in my back and had to keep looking for alternatives. I consider cooking to be one of my therapies. Lifting pots and pans, pushing cookie sheets into the oven, reaching to the cupboards all work. But I needed more physical activity that I'd have the motivation to do.
The Patio
Tomato plants I started indoors ready
to be transferred to the garden
My husband created a patio in our backyard. I love colors and flowers and vegetables for healthy cooking, so gardening has become part of my yearly routine. I love the Christmas holidays but not the winter days afterward. The first year I started with planting tomatoes. Nothing is better than fresh tomatoes to cook and to freeze for winter. I was clueless about planting and harvesting. To my amazement, the seeds I planted in my kitchen for Romas, Big Boys and Beefsteaks came up! My husband dug a yard garden and I was thrilled with what the 15-20 plants produced. Planting the seeds and watching them grow was as enriching for me as writing a book. The process drew me away from the computer to more standing time in order to water and transplant and stake and eventually move outside to the patio.

The past few years, I've grown heirloom tomatoes from seed. I watch cooking shows and chefs often talked about their enhanced flavor. I found a site online that had so many varieties I didn't know where to start. I choose them randomly according to color, variety and the story behind the seeds that had been handed down from generation to generation. I use a plant heat pad and my husband rigged up a workshop light to help them grow in our basement after they are started. I end up with around fifty plants. My husband gifted me with a small greenhouse for Mother's Day one year. We give plants to family, friends and neighbors.
Flower seedlings started
in my basement
Besides tomatoes, I grow from seed a few varieties of flowers--snapdragons, petunias, columbine and, this year, lemon cat mint. Some years are better than others. But no matter how many flowers and herbs I transfer to my garden, I take pride in and enjoy their colors and beauty. 

I plant over a thousand zinnia seeds by using my cane. Zinnias grow without much
encouragement or care. They usually surround our patio and brighten up any other garden. The best part about raising my flowers and tomatoes from seed is that they are all pesticide free.

My sleuth in my Caprice De Luca home staging mystery series gardens on a small scale, making her own yard colorful. Her mom raises heirloom tomatoes. I write not only what I know but what I have a passion for.
The McCartney Rose
My life spills over into my novels. We have feral and stray cats who come to our gardens and that's why I raise the varieties of flowers I do for the felines' safety and well-being. Last year we started to remove lilies which are toxic to cats. Our gardens mostly consist of cone flowers, snapdragons, zinnias, phlox and roses, all of which are cat safe.

Phlox and roses

Planting a seed, watering and nurturing it, watching it peep up from the potting soil is so satisfying.  Each plant has a unique quality, from its stems to its leaves. Shades of green vary. Each variety of flower has a unique scent. There is wonder in gardening and that is why it's the best therapy.



Caprice De Luca's former client and now friend Ace Richland--an 80's rock star--asks her for a favor.  Can she quickly stage his girlfriend's house to sell?  Widow Alanna Goodwin, a transplanted Southern beauty, will be moving in with him!  Immediately Caprice realizes Alanna's southern charm can be turned on and off at will.  Caprice agrees to stage Alanna's Kismet antebellum-styled mansion for Ace's sake.  But she soon learns Alanna doesn't have a genuine love for her cat Mirabelle and also uncovers a plot her new client is hatching to sabotage Ace's comeback.  However, before she can tell Ace, Alanna is murdered and Ace is the prime suspect.  

As Caprice investigates, she learns Alanna had more secrets than pie safes.  With her Cocker Spaniel Lady by her side, she tracks down clues and adopts Alanna's cat.  In the midst of some of her own family upheaval--her uncle has moved in with her parents--she finds herself with a dilemma.  Grant Weatherford, her brother's law partner, advises Ace and reveals more of his past to her.  Seth Randolph, the doctor she dates, wants her to meet his family.  She must choose between them.

Danger stalks Caprice.  Will her refresher self-defense course save her life?  Only if she keeps her wits about her and Lady by her side.


My cozy mysteries--with irrepressible sleuth Caprice De Luca--include a murder to solve. But as Caprice finds the answer to each investigation, she takes in stray animals and finds homes for them, stages houses, spends time with her large Italian family and cooks. She also must solve her own romantic dilemma--choosing Mr. Right. Readers will find recipes along with love and caring in each novel. 



Caprice De Luca  stages houses for high-end clients. When she discovers a body in the castle-mansion she staged to sell and starts asking questions, she finds herself in danger. On the way to solving the murder, Caprice's large Italian family helps and hinders. She also finds romance with Dr. Seth Randolph. But does her brother's partner, attorney Grant Weatherford, care about her, too? Or is he just worried she'll get herself killed and her family will blame him?

Enjoy solving the mystery with Caprice, cook along with her, see her find homes for the stray animals she protects, be a part of the De Luca STAGED TO DEATH.



Quiet Kismet, Pennsylvania, may look like any other small town, but as a home stager, Caprice De Luca can see behind closed doors--and it seems someone has designs on murder. . .Life is a full house for Caprice these days. She's dating, she's rescuing adorable cocker spaniels, and she's decorating the roomy interiors of Kismet's most well-heeled residents with fun fantasy themes. But she's worried about her pregnant sister. Bella's marriage is coming apart like a bad wallpaper job, and to make matters worse, she's decided to meet up with a former flame Bob Preston, a house painter Caprice frequently employs. When he's found dead in a pool of green paint swirling with blood, it's time for Caprice to stage an investigation. With all eyes trained on Bella's husband, Caprice shifts her attention from finding the perfect curtains to finding the perfect culprit. . .

DEADLY DECOR Barnes & Noble



Caprice De Luca's latest house staging is all about hearts, flowers, lace and chintz since Valentine's Day is around the corner.  She never expects her client to be murdered in the greenhouse the day of the open house.

With her six-month-old pup Lady by her side and her own love life in disarray, Caprice ferrets out clues from the victim's best friend, Caprice's mother, the housekeeper and a special male friend who insists his relationship with the victim was platonic.  However, as Caprice digs deeper, she finds the victim's past is filled with secrets that she kept from her husband for thirty years.

The past isn't merely history.  The present isn't always what it seems.  When hearts are involved, passion and even murder aren't far behind.


USA TODAY Bestselling Author Karen Rose Smith is an only child who delved into books at an early age. She learned about kindred spirits from Anne of Green Gables, solved mysteries with Nancy Drew and wished she could have been the rider on The Black Stallion. Yet even though she escaped often into story worlds, she had many aunts, uncles and cousins around her on weekends. Her sense of family and relationships began there. Maybe that's why families are a strong theme in her novels, whether mysteries or romances. Her 87th novel will be released in 2015.

Readers often ask her about her pastimes. She has herb, flowers and vegetable gardens that help her relax. In the winter, she cooks rather than gardens. And year round she spends most of her time with her husband, as well as her four rescued cats who are her constant companions. They chase rainbows from sun catchers, reminding her life isn't all about work, awards and bestseller lists. Everyone needs that rainbow to chase.

Karen looks forward to interacting with readers. They can find her at the links below. 


©2015 Karen Rose Smith


Anonymous said...

Wonderful, Karen! I always enjoy photos of your beautiful flowers. I may even try zinnias, next year! There is nothing like homegrown tomatoes and ours are doing well, this year.

Laurie I said...

What a nice post about gardening. You've inspired me to give it a try despite my own physical limitations and aversion to the sun. Your flowers are lovely and it's great that you keep the cats in mind. ( :

Barbara Hawk said...

Thank you for sharing! I love seeing your pictures of your garden and of the cats. I check your page daily.