She subverts the genre, I didn't see the end coming!  

Jim Kelly, Crime Writer - (about Rogue)

Bella D'Arcy reed

About Bella

My life has been spent in the arts, doing all sorts of things such as running a small music theatre company in the 1970s, being an Arts Centre Director, an Arts Officer in Peterborough and Head of Youth Arts in Essex. I have been a Director, Performer, Writer (plays) and Lecturer in Theatre Arts and Acting. Much of my work was in the community, creating programmes, taking events to schools and villages.

In my fifties, I accepted early retirement and retrained as a Garden Designer, getting a degree at Writtle College (now Writtle University College) for which I am now an Accessibility Advisor.

I was surprised to find that people would pay me to design! Again I worked in the community, helping to find funding, designing with children, and for residential homes. Some of my projects won awards, which was very exciting! (see below). What was also exciting was to design a trade garden which meant that I was working on it at RHS Chelsea and Hampton Court – being there during the build-up is just amazing.

Bella D'Arcy Reed


Garden Design Awards

  • 2013: Silver Medal RHS Hampton Court 2013, co-designer with Heather Appleton for QEF disability charity - the garden was rebuilt at the charity’s residential home.
  • 2005: Runner-up for the ILAM Innovation Award to Chelmsford Borough for the Elements garden Boleyn Park Chelmsford - Designer, Workshop Leader and Project Manager
  • 2004: ILAM Innovation Award to Chelmsford Borough Council: Designer Essex Environment Trust Award for Community Open Space; designer
  • 2001: Winner of Gold Medal and ‘Best in Show’ London Garden Show at Alexandra Palace

Writing Awards and Books

  • 2016 Winner of the Essex Book Festival Crime Writing Short Story, published on the Essex Book Festival website. You can also currently download this short story on this website.
  • 2015 Longlisted: Words and Women Short Story Competition
  • 2014 Shortlisted: Essex Book Festival Short Story Competition, published on the website same year.
one of Bella's favourite images

In 2013 I co-designed an accessible garden at RHS Hampton Court which won a Silver, and was recreated at the QEF residential home for young people with physical and mental health issues. I retired from design work after that and, to keep my mind active, I took an MA in ART History at the OU, which led to the writing of my first novel. In 2016, I won the Essex Book Festival Crime Writing Short Story Award, having previously been short-listed for the same Festival’s short story competition in 2014

I Live in Essex with my cat Cleo and some hungry pond fish. My garden is open for the Little Totham Flower Festival each year the second weekend in June – you will be very welcome!

Bella D'Arcy Reed's cat, Cleo!