Barbara Claypole White, whose debut The Unfinished Garden bows next month, might inspire a few readers to get their hands dirty. The British-born novelist, who now lives outside Chapel Hill in North Carolina, has always loved to garden so the subject is writ large in her work. In the novel, James Nealy, a software developer whose psychological problems are threatening to overwhelm him, thinks he might be able to find solace, and a break from the voices in his head, through gardening. But it’s when he meets Tilly—a professional landscaper and widow struggling with her new role as a single mother—that James realizes just how important his new garden might be. Claypole White talked to us about her green thumb and gave us a list of outdoor spots that have inspired her in life and on the page:

Montrose Gardens in Hillsborough, North Carolina: It dates back to the nineteenth century, and I have learned so much from owner, Nancy Goodwin.

The Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham, North Carolina
: They were developed in the 1930s. These gardens, part of Duke University, are in a class by themselves.

Niche Gardens, near Chapel Hill, North Carolina
: This is my local nursery, specializing in indigenous plants. The gardens surrounding the nursery have been a constant source of inspiration.

My mother's garden in the village of Turvey, Bedfordshire, and my sister's garden in the village of Newnham, Northamptonshire
: Both have been featured on gardening-tour fundraisers for the English Red Cross, and I am forever jealous of the plants that they can grow—and that I can't!

(Year: 2012 / Pub Month: September / Title: The Unfinished Garden / Author: Barbara Claypole White / Format: Trade / ISBN: 978-0-7783-1412-7 / Price: $14.95 U.S. and $17.95 CAN.)