Last evening, an email arrived bearing a wonderful gift: a first-person account of my speaking at the Manchester (Mass.) Garden Club back in January. Originally intended for the club's newsletter, it is so delightfully written that I am taking the opportunity to reprint it here.
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Men’s Night at the Manchester Garden Club
by Angus (Sandy) McIntyre
|Hanging out before the meeting with|
spouses of members of the MGC
(all photos by Sandy McIntyre)
|Signing books in Manchester. |
That's Betty on the right.
At the end of the social hour, we were treated to an engaging presentation by Neal Sanders, husband of Betty Sanders, President of the Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts. He regaled us with tales of his life as an assistant gardener, helping maintain two acres of suburban gardens at the Sanders home. Then somehow he managed to segue into his new career as a writer of murder mysteries. He started off by getting the men engaged, asking who could come up with the Latin name for the Eastern Forest Redbud. One of the men had the correct answer of “Cercis canadensis,” which elicited murmurs of surprise and approval from the ladies. However suspicions were raised when a second question was again answered by one of the men, eliciting accusations from several of the ladies (befitting a Garden Club meeting) of, “he’s a plant!”
|The Garden Club Gang|
From this, Neal shifted into murder mysteries, his new career. It was rather a leap, but he did point out that he got some of his best ideas from the garden (I hope not literally.) We heard about some of the plots and the characters from “The Garden Club Gang” and “Murder in the Garden Club” and others. I was so intrigued, I had to purchase one of his books, which he duly autographed for me.
|Jeannie and Sandy McIntrye|
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I would add just one memorable moment to a very memorable evening. Roughly the fourth time a male member of the audience correctly produced the correct Linnaean form for a shrub (Quercifolia angustifolia for the oak leaf hydrandgea), the man's wife said to him, quite loudly, "There's no way you know that!" Immediately thereafter, a woman in the back the room said (accurately), "I think we've been punked."