Write… Edit… Publish: Gardens – August 2016

It’s time for another post in the WEP blogfest, brought to you by two fabulous ladies, Denise Covey and Yolanda Renee.

gardens wep challenge

The Gardens prompt is all about creativity. What picture comes to mind when you hear the word ‘garden’ – the spectacular beauty of carefully landscaped tiers – the fresh delights of a new snowfall on frozen branches – or the haunting beauty of shadows and wilted plants at dusk on a fall night. 

Please share your poetry, photography, artistry, or writing skills in a flash fiction piece inspired by a garden!

Your choice of medium, genre, word count (1000 maximum) and how the prompt inspires you!

First I have to confess that I love admiring beautiful plants/gardens but I’m useless when it comes to actual gardening. I don’t have green fingers. Not at all. Truth be told? I once killed a cactus. How difficult is that? Very difficult. I mean, these plants can survive without water for days on end. So there you have it. End of that story.

Back to the blogfest. My contribution is an assortment of items. First I’ll share some pics and facts about the local Botanical Gardens. Then I have a short non-fiction piece inspired by the gardens. Lastly, I discovered a prompt-based piece written a while ago and decided to include it in this post.


FullSizeRenderIt is currently the oldest surviving botanic garden on the African continent and our city’s oldest public institution.

It was developed in 1849 as a botanic station for the trial of agricultural crops and has progressed as part of a network of botanic gardens internationally to focus on core areas of biodiversity, education, heritage, research, horticultural excellence and green innovation. FullSizeRender

It offers a herbarium, an orchid house, a cycad collection, a garden for the blind and a charity tea garden.

It’s famous for the original specimen of a Cycad (Encephalartos woodii) that is still widely acknowledged as probably the rarest plant in the world, as well as for its extensive collection of South African cycad species.


The herbarium contains an impressive collection of over 100,000 specimens of dried, pressed and catalogued plants, most of which originate in KwaZulu Natal. (the province in which I live)



Africa’s oldest surviving botanic gardens, on my doorstep, is the ideal spot…a beautiful, tranquil getaway. Situated close to the hub of the city, it is like another world, unhurried and laid-back. I always remember the frequent visits to the gardens during my childhood. It represents a haven, the perfect retreat; an ivory tower of lavish, overflowing greenery in the perfect sub-tropical climate. It boasts a herbarium which contains an impressive collection of over 100 000 dried, pressed and catalogued plant specimens; an orchid house; the fern collection of local and exotic species and an extensive Cycad collection! The lush grass carpet promises more therapeutic value than the $34 million seventeenth-century Persian rug sold at Sotheby’s three years ago. Besides the R&R it offers, it could definitely tempt the creative muse, lure her out of hiding. All that’s required is a pen, notebook, the warmth of the sun on your face as you lie on the expanse of lush green carpet!
Word count 160: NCCO

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Here’s a kiddies story written in response to a picture prompt.


plantsville“Do you think plants have feelings?” Four-year-old Philippa blurted, eyes glued to the miniature pot plant. Granny Megs paused, looked up from the paper she was reading. She was lost for words!

“What do you think?” she answered. It was best this way, since the child would arrive at her own conclusion, one way or the other.

“Well, I was just thinking… plants are living creatures, aren’t they gran?” Her little head rested on her arms, eyes still glued to the plant.

“Yes, they are. Plants are a living and growing part of nature which is God’s creation.” Hopefully that answer should put an end to that.

“How do they stay alive? Do they breathe?” Her little brow puckered in concentration .

“They breathe but not in the same manner as we breathe,” Granny Megs put down the paper and proceeded to leave the room.

“But where are their lungs?” Her little index finger moved up and down against the leaflet. There was no reply. Granny had already left. She looked around and sighed. Then she rolled her eyes upward.

“Why the sigh?” A tiny voice responded. She looked around. The room was empty.

“Over here… in front of you…”

“Where, I can’t see you.” Her little head darted from left to right.

“The plant, silly!” The volume had risen a notch. “And give the old lady a break would you?”

The magical voice seemed to come from the plant in front of her.

Her eyes opened wider, a priceless expression on her face. “You can talk. I knew it! I just knew it!”

“Of course I can. I’m alive, remember?”

She giggled.

“And I do have feelings. You are one smart young lady.”

“So how do you breathe? Do you have a family? And a home? Where do you come from? Do you have a best friend?” The string of questions tumbled out, one after the other.

“Of course I do. Would you like to meet my best friend?”

She nodded vigorously.

“Why don’t you come with me. I’ll show you everything!”

“Just close your eyes and concentrate on my voice…”

Philippa closed her eyes. The tiny lilting voice was hypnotic. She felt herself drift.
Word count 371: NCCO
(Any thoughts/comments on the direction this story should take?)


  1. Elephant's Child on August 19, 2016 at 9:27 pm

    Botanic Gardens the world over are wonderful places aren’t they? Havens of peace and beauty. I would love to visit yours.
    Love your snippet of story. And would agree with Phillipa. They are alive, they do have feelings and I would love to be able to talk to them. Direction? An exciting journey ahead. And I really, really want to know just who (or what if I am channelling grandma) the plant’s best friend is.

  2. Michael Di Gesu on August 20, 2016 at 4:20 am

    Such lovely gardens and a nice intro to them!

    I found your story totally charming… How sweet that the plant will show the little girl her family and how she lives…

    This could be an adorable picture book….

  3. Pat Garcia on August 20, 2016 at 9:05 am

    Hello Michelle,
    First, don’t feel bad about not being a garden specialist. I am not either.

    Secondly, to your non-fiction piece about the oldest botanical garden in Africa, I would probably feel right at home there because I love peace and stillness. It sounds a place I would like to visit.

    Thirdly, your fiction piece with the little four-year-old is excellent. Four-year-olds can find so many questions and their imaginations go beyond the depth of most adults. They are inquisitive. It’s a pity that the majority of people push down this art of inquiry when they become adults.

    Excellent post.
    Shalom aleichem,

  4. Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor on August 20, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    I love the story of the girl and the talking plant. I’d like to know what happens next. Does she get transported into a magical world where all of the plants come alive? Does she grow up to be a botanist? Who is the plant’s best friend?

  5. Ann Best on August 20, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    I love this post. First the Durban gardens – fantastic. The photographs are so lush that I feel as if I’m there, basking in the beautiful serenity. Then, the snippet of a story – the talking plant … as only a child can hear and feel. The child in me responds. Can’t think what to suggest about it though, but I suspect you will be able to put yourself in the scene and go where the muse takes you.

    Impressive post. Thank you.

  6. Alex J. Cavanaugh on August 20, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    I’m only good at growing grass.
    Cute story with the little girl. I wonder if she’ll want to come back?

  7. dolorah on August 21, 2016 at 6:00 am

    I’ll bet I could kill a cactus too, lol. That little story is adorable. I can see this taking an educational route, with some drawings. Nice start.

  8. Nicola on August 21, 2016 at 10:16 am

    I am hopeless in my knowledge about gardens but my garden is my refuge and brings me so much pleasure that it doesn’t matter. Most of my thinking takes place there and many ideas for my stories have transpired there. A lovely post. Thank you for sharing.

  9. L. Diane Wolfe on August 21, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    I’d be curious to see how a garden for the blind is set up.

  10. DG Hudson on August 21, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    Love the little girl and the plant story – I talk to my plants, but as yet, they haven’t talked back! Perhaps the story could go with the girl getting a trip into the Plant Universe and then is brought back very tired from all she sees. Gran – when she comes back, tells the girl it was all a dream. . .but was it??

  11. Olga Godim on August 21, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    Wonderful multifaceted post. First information, then impression, then fiction.

  12. Yolanda Renee on August 21, 2016 at 6:31 pm

    Oh, I love it! All of it, but especially the young girl who closes her eyes and finds herself in an amazing garden full of plants, they all talk to her and answer her questions as they take her on an amazing journey. When her Gran calls her name, and she has to do is close her eyes again and then open them and she’s back home, but I see dozens of children’s books detailing her adventures while teaching about gardening and plants. Phillipa becomes the plants adviser when the other plants come to her for answers to ‘social’ problems such bullying etc. A dual purpose children’s collection. 🙂 Such fun!

    For mankind is a garden of many many beautiful colors!

    Thanks, Michelle, this is a fabulous entry for the WEP Gardens Challenge!

  13. Sally on August 22, 2016 at 10:30 am

    A lovely informative post and you are lucky to live close enough to visit the beautiful botanical gardens if you wanted to. The mind of a child is so curious and your snippet captured it beautifully.

  14. Toi Thomas on August 22, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    I have no idea how I missed this post. So sorry.
    I love the garden images you shared and the story about the African Botanical Garden. I also like your story about the girl and the talking plant. I wrote something similar a while back, but not really. I mean there was a kid and a special plant, but the stories are very different. I like where the story ends, but not sure where it should go. I do imagine, though, that it will be magical.

  15. Hilary on August 23, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    Hi Michelle – I know Kirstenbosh Botanical Garden and your talk of cycads took me to Mojadji Botanical gardens – which my mother and I visited … such a great place full of wonderful cycads.

    I love your story of Granny Meg’s granddaughter, Philippa, … I think you could easily stretch your ideas here … and be taken off in many a direction … just to switch off our adult minds, relax and go with the flow of Philippa … I’d follow her along – but definitely would hate to direct her … but would egg her on.

    I did this sort of thing with my Ma – if her imagination was off on a ramble – I’d join in … and we’d laugh and have fun … so much better for a bed-ridden terminally ill person – my mother was happy, didn’t worry me … and kept us occupied … dreaming.

    Cheers – gardens are a delight … Hilary

  16. Nick Wilford on August 26, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    What a beautiful post! I’m no gardener either, but I enjoy admiring them. I’ve done zero work to my back garden since moving in a year ago, but the existing beds are flowering nicely none the less. I’d love to visit the botanical gardens – the ones in Glasgow sound similar, there’s a busy traffic junction just outside it but as soon as you get through the gate it’s a different world. It would be fun to see where the story goes!

  17. Jemi Fraser on August 29, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    Very cool! Love the botanical gardens and your story is awesome! Little Philippa is going to grow up well 🙂

  18. Shannon Lawrence on August 30, 2016 at 6:04 am

    I’m deeply intrigued by the garden for the bling. I’d guess it has plants that can be touched. What a neat thing to do!

    Love the little voice from the plant. So many things you could do with that. Fairies, talking bugs, the plant talking, an imaginary friend.

  19. Tess Julia on September 1, 2016 at 4:56 am

    All this time and I missed the fact that you are from South Africa! Thanks for sharing the botanical garden with us- I love gardens and gardening, but I don’t do well with potted plants. In the ground plants have been fairly successful for me.
    Loved the little girl story- so sweet.

  20. Jennifer Chandler on September 28, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    I love public gardens! There’s one not far from my house and I love going there and just sitting, enjoying nature. Sometimes I take my writing but mostly I end up just admiring the view! I’d love to see how a garden for the bind is set up. I’ll be it’s got loads of fragrant plants! The story is really fun and sweet. I’d love to learn more about the little girl’s adventures with her new plant friend!

    ~ Jen

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