Grow Write Guild #18: This Mortal Coil


Last week, I lay flat on the examination table wearing nothing but a thin hospital gown while my doctor went through the routine of a physical, poking and prodding, checking for any unusual growth. I’ll spare you the details, but we all know what this entails. It’s uncomfortable and nobody enjoys it, but it’s one of those small humiliations that are to be endured now and again for the sake of our health.

I think it was just to get me through the examination, but my doctor chose the worst of it to start a chat about gardening. She asked my advice on plants she can grow, and like all beginners, she expressed anxiety and remorse about all of the plants she has killed.

Once I got past the surreal awkwardness of giving advice in that condition, I assured her, as I do all new gardeners, that killing plants is just part of the experience. We all do it. I still do it. Every gardener I know, regardless of their expertise, loses a plant or two (or more) every year. This got me thinking about the approaching end of the year, a time when I tend to reflect on my successes and failures in the garden. I thought now might be a good time to try a writing exercise that turns the negative into a positive, even if that positive is just a good story committed to paper.

Grow Write Guild Prompt #18: Write a eulogy for a plant that has died.

Further Notes and Questions:

  • This isn’t a real eulogy so feel free to have fun with it. Pretend you are writing about a great friend (“I love you basil. You were my very favorite basil.”), or a terrible enemy (“Dammit, that basil ruined my life!”). Okay, these are terrible examples, but you get the gist.
  • Feel free to write about any plant that has died in your care. I thought about stipulating a plant that died within the last year, but realized that there may be more compelling stories attached to a plant from your distant past.
  • Perhaps it is the first plant that you killed?
  • Is it a plant that died while you were away on holiday?
  • Was the plant a perennial? It might be interesting to write about an annual that was coming to the end of its lifecycle regardless.

The Grow Write Guild is a creative writing club for people who love to garden. Everyone is welcome to participate! Click over to the Grow Write Guild FAQ to learn more about it.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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