The paper I write for just held a short fiction contest. 99 words or less. I didn't enter the contest–not only do I work for the paper, I'm sleeping with one of the judges. But I did try my hand at a few pieces of short horticultural fiction, and it was so much fun that I've decided you should do it, too.
So. 99 words or less. You've got a week. Post them in the comments, and we'll run the winners next week. Also, feel free to weigh in on the entries by posting a comment on your favorites.
And what kind of lovely prizes do we have for our winners? Rather than award first, second, and third places, we've come up with some arbitrary and capricious categories. You don't have to tell us what category you're competing in; just put your fiction out there and we'll sort it out.
A Rose is a Rose: Where would literature be without the rose? The winner in this category gets a thorny pair from Algonquin Books: The totally lovely, brand-new A Rose by Any Name: The Little-Known Lore and Deep-Rooted History of Rose Names by Douglas Brenner and Stephen Scanniello; and Otherwise Normal People: Inside the Thorny World of Competitive Rose Gardening by Aurelia Scott.
High-Impact: Car crash or eye-catching plant? You can let "impact" mean whatever you want it to mean. The winner gets this pair from Timber Press: Plant-Driven Design by Scott and Laura Ogden and 50 High-Impact, Low-Care Garden Plants by Tracy DiSabato-Aust
Good Enough to Eat: The best culinary garden tale gets Lee Reich's Landscaping with Fruit from Storey
and, from Algonquin, French Dirt: The Story of a Garden in the South of France by Richard Goodman.
But Wait–That's Not All! Because we know we're going to have so much trouble choosing, we're also offering three pair of West County Gloves to–well–whoever we want to bestow them upon.
So many prizes! How can you not win? And now, to prime the pump, I offer a few of my own horticultural micro-novels. Get to it. And by the way, if you decide that your 99 words just might be the beginning of that Great American Novel you've been meaning to write, go for it. GardenRant lays no claim to your words other than the joy of posting the winners next Monday.
Enter as often as you like. Here are four from me:
I was five when my grandmother offered to pay me to pick snails in her garden. She showed me how to pull them off the sleek blue leaves of hostas and how to crawl under the porch where they hid until nighttime. Every afternoon I would bring her my bucket and she’d count them and give me a penny per snail. She never did discover the old fish tank behind the garage where I was breeding them. I realize I’ve defrauded a lot of investors over the years, but the only person I regret cheating is my grandmother.
If Robert and Danny hadn’t decided to get married in their own backyard, and if Danny hadn’t insisted on ripping out a perfectly good juniper hedge and replacing it with Casablanca lilies at a cost of over two thousand dollars, and if Robert hadn’t demanded that they move the wedding date from August to September so his mother could have her knee surgery first, and if the Casablanca lilies had simply listened to reason and bloomed in September instead of August as they are biologically programmed to do, it would have been a beautiful wedding.
Tony’s poison garden started as a joke when a
patch of wild hemlock sprouted in the backyard. To that he added castor bean, source of the poison ricin, and
hellebore, whose roots were used by the Greeks as an early form of chemical
warfare. But when Sarah complained about the barking dog next door and found it
dead in the driveway the next day, she realized Tony’s joke had gone too far.
Still, she couldn’t help but wonder who else might be in need of a hemlock
sandwich as long as Tony was taking orders.
“Where are you going to plant that?” he said.
“I don’t know,” she said.
“How much does it cost?” he said.
“I don’t care,” she said.
“What does it do?” he said.
“It’s a vine. It blooms,” she said.
“Why do we need it?” he said.
“We don’t,” she said.
“They why would you buy it?” he said.
“I love it,” she said.
“Do you love me?” he said.
“I’m not so sure,” she said.