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The King's Garden/God's Bouquet

Summer is a time for sitting in the garden - and telling stories to children.
Read as much, or as little, into the following story as you wish.
It is Elizabeth's version of a very old story
- and it is a story for children of all ages!

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Once upon a time, in a far away land, there lived a king whose dearest wish was to have the most beautiful garden in the world. It was not to be a garden planned, prepared and planted by gardeners - but one planned, prepared and planted by the king himself. The king took longer doing things than the gardeners, but that didn’t matter, for the king wanted the garden truly to be his.

Time passed and at last the great day came when all the work was finished and the king could admire his handiwork. Even the gardeners had to admit that they couldn’t have done better themselves. It really was a beautiful garden. The king was a happy man when he went to bed that night - and he couldn’t get out into the garden quick enough after breakfast the next day.

But a dreadful sight met his eyes - a scene of utter devastation - everything in that beautiful garden was dead. The king just couldn't believe it - what could have caused such a disaster in one short night? He wandered sadly from one shrivelled plant to another when his eye was caught by a little patch of colour in one corner. As he got closer he could see that it was a single pansy plant. Not just an ordinary pansy either, but one that was almost perfect - masses of little pansy faces turned up to the rising sun - lots more buds still to come - and all surrounded by healthy looking green leaves.

The king got down on his knees beside the little plant and said, ”Can you tell me, little pansy, what went wrong here last night and why out of all the hundreds of plants in my garden you are the only one still alive?”

“Oh,” said the pansy, ”It was the pine tree that started it moaning and groaning and saying how tired he was of being a pine tree and how he wanted to have nice leaves like the oak tree. In fact he got so depressed that he just gave up and died. And you needn’t think that the oak tree was any happier - he wanted a nice straight trunk like the pine! The weeping willow was tired of trailing its branches in the stream - and the silver birch hated its pale bark. So they all just withered away. And that was only the trees - you should have heard the flowers! The delphinium was tired of being blue - and the rose of its perfume. The hollyhocks wanted to be small - and the little rock plants wanted to be tall. Not one of them contented and all preferring to die rather than be themselves.”

“Then how is it that you didn’t join them?”

“ Oh that would have been so easy,” replied the pansy, “After all how would any of them like to have a name like mine - a name everyone makes jokes about. But I remembered all the care you had taken making this garden - and the blisters on you hands from all the digging (you weren't used to it, you know) - and I thought if the king has planted a little pansy right here then that’s exactly the right place for a pansy to be - so I’d better be the best little plant I can be.”

And the sight of the pansy eased the king’s heart - which is as it should be for “Hearts-ease” is the old fashioned name for a pansy!

In the way of fairy stories, the king and the pansy at least, lived happily ever after. By the next summer there were several dozen pansy plants in the garden, and the year after that, several hundred. In fact the king became something of a world authority - on pansies!

The end.

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You must bloom where you are planted
In the garden we call life,
And bring some special beauty to
Each corner where there's strife.

Perhaps you're but a dandelion,
Wishing you were a rose,
Yet in this place of growing things,
You're the one God chose.

It's up to you to finish what
The Good Lord has begun,
By growing just the way you should
And face the rising sun.

There's room for you, if you but choose,
In a glorious array
Of beauty from God's garden, that
He'll add to his bouquet.

Unknown

13th June 2000


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