A delicate, rare bloom which is “like the blood diamonds of the flower world” and fetches millions of euro is the subject of author and poet Paul Perry’s first solo novel.
The Garden centres on an orchid farm in Florida, where the owner is desperate to revive his fortunes by growing specimens of the highly-prized ghost orchid, whose roots are so well camouflaged on the tree that the flower seems to float in mid-air. But to find one of the orchids, the owner needs the help of the local Seminole tribe living on a nearby reservation.
Paul, who worked on an orchid farm in Florida for three years in the 1990s, says: “That experience had such an impact on me that it never really went away. Images and stories came back to me until I sat down to flesh them out in the novel The Garden.
“When I worked on this orchid farm I worked as a casual labourer. What I saw was cultivation of these beautiful plants that people paid money for.” But he also saw new varieties modified in the laboratory there, and the operation of a shadow economy.
“An underbelly and black economy has grown up around them, so you have poachers and a whole other economy parallel to the legitimate ones,” Paul tells Martina Devlin during the City of Books podcast.
Paul is one half of the successful Karen Perry writing duo, with four bestselling literary thrillers under their belts, and he also talks about why he and Karen have ended their partnership.
More about The Garden here: https://www.newisland.ie/fiction/the-garden