Gardening 101 by Ann Roberts

I don’t know about you, but the world seems to be getting pretty (insert your favorite colorful word here) intense. While I like to stay informed, I also like to laugh to deal with stress. And, I need some chuckles these days.

Today, the wonderful Ann Roberts is here to help us laugh. Also, Ann is giving away 1 ecopy of Dying on the Vine. Below the guest post, you’ll find more details about the giveaway.

Take it away, Ann.

Gardening 101

When we lived in AZ, we had one rule about living things that didn’t have ears or paws (i.e., plants, trees, flowers): I wasn’t allowed to touch, water, prune—even look at the innocents. Why? I killed them. Routinely.

See, I’m not good with living things that don’t give cues. I function appropriately with feedback like the dog scratching his ear when it was infected, the cat chomping on my finger when I tried to scratch her chin (I learned that time for sure), or my son bellowing, “Ow! Mom, the soup’s too hot!” But plants give no cues. How much water is enough? Are they getting enough sun? Do they need sunscreen? Do we really have to pick all the tangelos off the very tall tree for it to stay healthy? What’s that icky stuff on the mulberry tree’s bark? Is it sick?

As it turns out, our mulberry tree was very sick and required lots of expensive care, but did it let me know? Did one of its branches tap on a window pane with an, “Excuse me, excuse me! I’m hurting here!” No. Diagnosis: terminal. (But that didn’t matter because the millennials who bought our house killed it anyway. They thought the irrigation water that kept the tree alive was “icky.”)

Here in the PNW, Amy and I got to play a game this winter: Dead or Dormant? And I’ll be the first to say we suck at this game. We pulled up our peonies which looked deader than ever, only to watch a few that we’d missed start to sprout. They’d been cowering behind the Spanish Bluebells that grow everywhere in our yard.

“Oops,” Amy said. “Dormant. Not dead.” Sorry peonies.

So when the hydrangea also looked as if it had gone the way of our old mulberry tree, we left it alone. We didn’t call our new favorite gardening store, Down to Earth, and squawk at the customer service desk for selling us a loser hydrangea. We just left it alone. Guess what? It’s coming back! Of course, it’s been completely surrounded by the Spanish Bluebells like a Democrat at a Trump rally, but it’s trying.

I’ve come to realize that I needed a new perspective. While there are certainly plants in Arizona that celebrate seasons and bloom when appropriate, most plant and tree life in AZ is just… constant. In my mind, the cacti look the same year-round–as do the Palo Verde trees. We had rosebushes for years in front of our house (also destroyed by the millennials), and every winter for about two weeks, Amy could cut the blooming roses and I would appropriately ooh and ahh at them. Then they just sat there for the other ten months sucking up the water. Status quo.

Here, there is no status quo. There are seasons. And things seem to be hardier, able to withstand rainstorms and freezing temperatures. In Phoenix, if it ever dipped below thirty-five, we were out with our sheets covering just about anything that was worth oohing and aahing over. Here, we covered a couple of things once in a while, until the snow came and we couldn’t even find the white sheet. Gave new meaning to the term, “blanketed with snow.”

The entire gardening issue was decided for us by our new puppies, Chip and Hattie, both of whom have a propensity for any plant that is “woody.” All they see are sticks waiting to be ripped from the plant and paraded about the yard. Now our yard could be featured in a dystopian novel. It’s a new game: survival of the fittest. So far, dogs -1, hydrangea – 0.

C’mon, little plant!


An Ari Adams Mystery: Book 8

by Ann Roberts

When Ari Adams journeys to Oregon’s wine country with best pal Jane Frank, she envisions sipping pinot noir on a gorgeous deck and staring at the sunsets across the Willamette Valley.

But then they arrive at Sisters Cellars only to find that the sommelier, Dion Demopolous, has been murdered. Dion had been favored to win the Master Sommelier title at the world’s most prestigious wine competition, and now more than a few people are happy to see him gone.

Mina Sommer, Jane’s childhood friend and the owner of Sisters Cellars, asks Ari to investigate. Ari’s romantic assumptions are quickly shattered as she delves into the cutthroat world of winemaking—where suspicion is routine, reputation is coveted, and passion for the drink of goddesses and queens is just another motive for murder.

  • 1 winner

Dying on the Vine Giveaway



To enter the giveaway, please enter your email. The author/publisher will contact you by email to arrange delivery of the prize.



Ann Roberts is the award-winning author of twenty romance, mystery and general fiction novels, including the Ari Adams mystery series. She has been short-listed for a Lambda Literary Award three times, and she has the unusual distinction of being recognized in both the Mystery and Romance categories. In 2014, her mystery novel Point of Betrayal, was awarded a Goldie as Best Mystery by the Golden Crown Literary Society (GCLS). Ann is also the proud recipient of the Alice B. Medal for her body of work.

In 2017 Ann and her wife of 25 years relocated to Eugene, Oregon, trading in the brown of the desert for the green of pine trees. They enjoy hiking in the Cascades, walking along the ocean, and visiting wineries and vineyards, especially when friends and family visit from Arizona. Ann finds the new surroundings inspiring, and she envisions Oregon as the setting of several future novels and Sasquatch (who is believed to reside in Oregon) as a recurring character.


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Thanks so much for stopping by today.

About TBM

TB Markinson is an American who's recently returned to the US after a seven-year stint in the UK and Ireland. When she isn't writing, she's traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in New England, or reading. Not necessarily in that order. Her novels have hit Amazon bestseller lists for lesbian fiction and lesbian romance. She cohosts the Lesbians Who Write Podcast ( with Clare Lydon. TB also runs I Heart Lesfic (, a place for authors and fans of lesfic to come together to celebrate lesbian fiction.
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