Sunday 9th November

Yay, we're nearly half-way to our fundraising target. THANK YOU. Nowhere near half-way through November though, and is it just us or are the contributions really good? Thank you for that too, we've been loving reading them. Here's your Sunday morning prompt.


Each season the garden smells different. The heavy emotions wait in every corner to pounce. The roses store up grief, daffodils hope. The honeysuckle is the only one to cling.


  1. It was only when I had kids that I really understood the word ‘clingy’. Like limpets when they were small. They’re teenagers now. I miss the weight of their touch.

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  3. Gathering dried petals, she sewed them into tiny bags. She wore a new one daily, perfuming herself with forgotten emotions.

    It hurt at first, like feeling returning to cold fingers.

  4. Their fluent chatter waits in shadows to pounce. I turn back to the board. Behind me, words escape like high-flying seagulls. I pace around, a keeper of clipped silence.

    Debbie Morgan

  5. The stout vines of orange wild honeysuckle have been used to reinforce suspension bridges. Breathe honeysuckle and be fully in the present; learn from the past, don’t cling to it.

  6. Blood spattered across sparkling, winter-sun grass as Felicia made her first kill of the day. She’d left the rabbits alone in this area of the wood since last spring and now their population was at a level that needed to be culled before they ate down all the new trees in spring. The scent of blood in her nostrils was almost intoxicating, but she carried her kill up to the ridge, where an ancient stone hewn from the old limestone pavements stood guard over the hill.

    She tore into the carcass, leaving the entrails as an offering to whoever the stone represented (not that she cared) and savouring the heady scent of the internal organs; holding the heart and liver on her tongue and letting the juices tickle her throat. She ripped out the meat and – quite literally – wolfed it down, the heat of her activities enough the melt the early November ground frost into grass and mud.

    Leaving the remains of the kill for crows and foxes, she headed down again, pausing at the river to plunge her face and paws into the ice-cold torrent to wash away the stink of her kill then headed back to the house, taking in the fresh scents of fallen leaves and fungi, spotting a new growth of shaggy ink cap in the clearing where they’d cut down an old stags-horn oak. She paused and transformed into her human form, plucking two of the five caps to take back to the house for breakfast. From a sheltered spot she picked several sprays of late flowering honeysuckle to brighten the kitchen and make her sister smile.

    She paused again, plucking a spray of buddleia and a sprig of hawthorn, heavy with red berries. Julie would probably want to paint her portrait: ‘Werewolf, with flowers.”

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  8. In summer there's the smell of rain before a storm, accented with roses, lavender and tingling electricity. The earth opens up to greet them as the first heavy raindrops fall.

  9. He really likes his rose garden with Roses and Violets, Daisys and Angelicas, Bryonys and Daphnes and Jasmines and Lilys. If only they weren’t such difficult and demanding blooms …

  10. The earth revolves around the sun
    as you wake I try to sleep
    your coffee is my ovaltine
    you grow colourful Acacias
    while I gather burnt leaves
    tomorrow is today.

  11. The latest bouquet to arrive has been placed
    In a bucket on the kitchen floor. No more vases to fill.
    Every step is shadowed by the backstabbing smell of grief.

  12. The stout vines of orange wild honeysuckle have been used to reinforce suspension bridges, aerial walkways. Breathe honeysuckle as you cross the gorge with nothing you can hold on to.

  13. Stephen had been a swine. In Suzie’s mind, it was over. Since the wedding, everything she said or wanted to do was wrong. She couldn’t take any more. With tears running down her face she reached over to unlatch the “secret” bolt. She walked down the passage, between the sheds and into heavenly calm of her parent’s garden.

    Although the house wasn’t grand, the garden behind her childhood home was a fairyland of safety. With a glance, Dad took in Suzie’s tear streaked face. He stood up and enfolded her in his warm, welcoming bear hug. Mum, more reserved, her clippers held mid snip said, “Is Stephen with you?”

    Suzie couldn’t speak. She wanted to sob in the sanctuary of her Dad’s hug rather than face reality. She heard mum sigh and go into the house through the old French windows. Finally, Suzie unfolded herself from dad’s arms and walked across the lawn. She knew Dad watched her, just as he had watched her take her first steps as a child.

    She smelled the flowers. The scent, ever changing, drew her gently into the embrace of the garden.

    “And this time?” asked mum, as she carried a tea tray onto the lawn.

    “He started screaming at me. I only ordered the carpet we needed.”

    “I thought that you were waiting to let your finances recover,” said mum, pouring out a fresh cup of tea.

    “But mum, we need it. Wooden floors are so cold.” Suzie knew she sounded childish and she realised that she had brought the argument on herself.

    “Actually, all you ‘need’ phoned desperately trying to find you. Kiss, make up and enjoy.”

    “A garden like this doesn’t come easily,” said mum as she deftly clipped a branch. She smiled at Dad and said, “It’s shaped over years”.

  14. Remove the bottom tip of a fiery nasturtium flower, squeeze a drop of the sweetest juice, place it on your tongue, remember his warm kiss, all autumn and blissful resignation.

  15. Some see you as a bloom of welcome. But I know you. You cling, you cloy, reminding me of years I left behind while racing sunsets to escape you, Frangipani.

  16. One day there will only be the cold, grey, sour smell of concrete for where the roses mourn, daffodils pretend and the honeysuckle hangs will be the staff car park.

  17. Smells would trigger her emotions. Coffee made her happily content. Roses made her love. Cinnamon filled her with blissful joy. Only the smell of baking bread filled her with regret.

    Jamieson Wolf

  18. Your lies cling to the corners of the room like cobwebs. Each time I dust them down they reappear, longer, more tangled and conspicuous, brushing against me in the dark.

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  20. Baby soap. White and cool against my skin. The scent reminding me of baby skin , soft, smooth and brand new.
    Mine is wrinkled with age now but still I remember.

  21. Spring bulbs meticulously planted with great precision into tubs. Every leaf swept from paving with a brush like mine. The garden is immaculate.
    Now, where did I bury those conkers?

  22. He liked the japonica best, the leaves were glossy all year and its colour remained the same except for the occasional coating of dust from the road. The japonica reminded him of his solidity, with it slightly bitter scent if a leaf was torn. The laburnam was like his first lover, Monica, yellow flowers swaying slightly in the breeze, looking bright and enticing but carrying, after a suitable time, little pods of poison. The purple irises were like Susanne with a depth and eroticism that still thrilled him, but only in recollection; he loved to think of her hunger for him, her exhibitionism and joy. But like the flower, she was not something to pluck from the ground and place in glass in ones living room. Susanne was long gone.
    Tomorrow he was to marry Ursula, a successful woman for whom no flower or greenery would serve as a suitable metaphor. His mother was delighted to see him settle down with a professional and pretty wife. She had chosen a bouquet of lilies for their wedding day. He would move away from his northern city to dig in their large garden at weekends, to travel only when necessary for business, to have a child or two if Ursula thought it appropriate. He felt heavy with sorrow as he examined himself in the mirror and heard a cuckoo singing, the last one of the year.

  23. Aconites, celandine, snowdrops. Later bluebells beneath the walnut tree, primroses selfseeded; and a single purple orchid in summer. In April the huge magnolia will bloom. I feel your presence everywhere.
    30 words.

    Mary Rose.

  24. The passing months have irradiated your presence from our house; in our garden the cherry tree you planted has bloomed. With a knife and a vase I bring you home.


  25. Stumbling blocks stir up experiences
    Of conundrums, yet, those fallen petals,
    Of mixed emotions,
    Mock at my predilections,
    You cling to your Avatar, diligence,
    Your blood , children, hope and rejuvenation.

  26. The scent of lavender calms me. Picking the sprigs, drying them carefully, I ensure my world will still smell of you, my clothes aromatic as yours once were, beloved grandmother.

  27. No hiding underground for the Cardoons. They drink in blue hope from Autumn's fading skies. Watching every crystalline moment of Winter white-out, they slowly rise towards purple crowned glory.

  28. Chilly mornings bring memories of her youth: hunting for chestnuts amongst golden leaves, her cheeks glowing in the heat of an open fire, his eyes, bright and brimming with laughter.

  29. From Douglas Bruton:


    Cuthbert was not a gardener. That has to be said at the outset.

    He cut the grass each week, dutifully, careful and neat, pushing the mower into every sharp corner, picking up every dropped knot of grass. But he did so with a grimace. His face set and his shoulders stiff, the burr of the machine an unconcealed irritation to him.

    Cuthbert weeded infrequently. Putting off the task until clumps of buttercup and strings of bindweed choked the borders, and rye-grass grew where it should not, stretched beyond the neat squares that he cut.

    Cuthbert’s wife complained. She didn’t have the time, she said ruefully. Said it again and again.

    There’s a book written telling how men are from one place and women from someplace else. How they see things differently and hear different too. Cuthbert heard a small agony in everything his wife said. An accusation against him. That he had failed her somehow. So, he knelt on the path then, like a penitent at his prayers, prostrating himself, tugging the borders clear of all that should not be there.

    Yellow pricking-stars of celandine and the rag-limp blooms of red and orange poppy. Dandylion bursts and prickly thistle. And the stubborn cords of ground elder, and the flames of rosebay-willowherb.

    But one corner of the garden Cuthbert deliberately left untouched, wild not abandoned. Here nettles took hold and ivy. And dogwood roses threw out arcs of thorn. And foxglove bells made a quiet music there. And butterflies drifted on the air, like torn pieces of cloth or paper, white and yellow and blue. And bees were busiest in that corner.

    And Cuthbert’s wife gave thanks for what he had done. He felt almost blessed. Almost - for she pointed to the one wild corner, and pronounced his task unfinished.

  30. The red leaves of the flowering cherry tree have given up the fight.
    One by one they release their grip and create blood coloured circles
    around the base of the trunk, bare branches swaying together in loss.
    A first frost only accentuates the colours as the garden slides into winter.

    It no longer seems real that we sat in the shade under these same trees,
    drinking coffee out of sight from the hot golden sun.
    We, like the garden are slowing, preparing for the short days and long nights
    of Novembers changing weather.

    The air is clearer with the cold and it seems to clarify thought at the same time,
    I look past you to the valley, autumn colours lifted by the slanting sunshine,
    cold but bright. The plants know nothing of others,
    only growth and seasons, and now is for shedding and conserving.

    It is twelve months since Paris, time gone past, seen only when we stop to look back.
    As if the time spent loving was some one else's life.
    A story told to us and then they walked away, leaving us with only a look back
    to mark the passing of something profound. A secret we will hold forever.

    But love is our season, a secret smile in an unexpected place,
    red lips and a touch of hands when we sway on the metro together.
    A memory taking us back to the heat of the summers day
    and coffee in the garden under the red leaves of the cherry trees.


    Finally, one in on time.

  31. I used to think the willow the lonliest tree, until he took me beneath its weeping branches and we turned rapture into fluttering fairy wings and sweetest baby’s breath. You.

  32. In spring time, the sticky buds from the horse chestnut cling to the fibres of the carpets and to the clusters of hair in the corners of the kitchen and around the skirting boards. There may be a vase on the dusty windowsill. Inside will be a liquid, partially evaporated, concentrated to a viscosity it didn't possess before; a green band will have marked the number of days it has been there. Within the murkiness, the daffodil stems will have begun to dissolve.

    In summer, the French doors are wide open. Coloured wellington boots are scattered around the kitchen and clumps of freshly mown grass imprinted onto dog faeces get kicked under the table by the passing throng of children. By early evening, the fragrance of burning firelighters pre-empts the odours of burning fat from the barbecue. Afterwards, the debris of sharp, serrated beer bottle tops, charcoaled napkins, chicken drumsticks dragged across the patio by the cat and the wasps feeding off remnants of coleslaw remind you that you should clear up. But you don't; you pour yourself a big glass of wine and stare at the fence. Next door are playing party games and cackling.

    Autumn comes suddenly. Fallen leaves blow thoughts of dining al fresco away. The wind picks up, the French doors are closed except when the dog is let out to frolic amongst the rotting conkers in the same shade as his stools. You embrace the idea of the cosy winter ahead, watch fireworks cutting a track in the smoky air through the window and inhale wet dog. You remember the summer with fondness; the sweet smell of urine, the stickiness of honeysuckle pollen in your nostrils, encapsulated in the image of a Sugar Puff coated in dog hair which is stuck to your knee.

  33. She hadn’t expected these sorts of memories to come flooding in but she shouldn’t have been surprised. As the rain fell she remembered the spring that they had planted so many radishes. They grew in 3 weeks almost too long for the patience of a 4 year old. Mother had made radishes a hundred different ways that year. That had been the year that Elsa had first fallen in love with gardening.
    As the low hanging clouds made her think of the autumn of her 18th year when she had first fallen in love. The smell of the earth in the apple orchard, laying under the trees, on a wool blanket and looking up at the harvest moon hoping that the winter would never come.
    She remembered another fall as well. The year her dad came down with cancer. She had planted 300 daffodils in the yard. Believing that just the expectation of them blooming in the spring just might keep him alive longer than the doctor’s had predicted. She had been right too, they had said he wouldn’t last the winter but it wasn’t until the middle of April he had passed. The last daffodil had died and two days later he had gone.
    The smell of jasmine floated in the breeze. The singing was almost over. People had stood waiting in the rain and she knew it was her turn. She stepped forward and then she bent down, reaching into the pocket of her long raincoat. She pulled out a small trowel and scooped up a small amount of dirt. This should have been the spring of radishes. She placed the dirt on the tiny coffin. Tears falling down her face, she would never have imagined that she would be planting her four year old in the ground.



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