Yesterday I was doing some research for an Instagram post about Biddulph Grange gardens, which I used as the main inspiration for the garden in December Roses. I particularly wanted to find out more about a giant stone frog, which lurks amongst the undergrowth in the Chinese garden there, and which I incorporated into the book as the emblem of the Frogmorton family.
Sure enough, I found some fascinating blog posts about the gardens and their history, and about the various statues and other strange objects that are scattered about. And it turns out that they, and the frog in particular, were created by the Victorian sculptor and natural history enthusiast Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, whose main claim to fame was as the designer of the famous concrete dinosaurs in London’s Crystal Palace park.
We visited the dinosaurs a few years ago and fell in love with them, but I had no idea that they had country cousins at Biddulph Grange. Now more than ever I want to head back to the gardens and renew my acquaintance with the frog, the water buffalo, the Chinese lion dog and various other critters, all by the same chap.
Incidentally, I’m trying to re-organise my Instagram account and link it more successfully to my writing rather than just posting pretty pictures at random. I’m hoping to have regular features such as #MondayMystery, #WritersLifeWednesday and #SaturdaySentence, with features, excerpts from my books, insights into the background, settings etc I’ve used, book reviews, guest posts, and gawd knows what else. And some of the content will be exclusive. So if you want to check it out, come and find me and join in the fun.