May 7, 2024

#AtoZChallenge 2024 Reflection

          Plant a carrot, get a carrot,

          Not a Brussels sprout!

          That’s why I love vegetables:

          You know what you’re about!

        These lines from “The Fantasticks” may be true for mundane plants of the ordinary world, but as we’ve seen in my A to Z Challenge posts this year, you are very far from knowing what you’re about when it comes to the magical plants of folkore, fairy tale, and legend!  If you enjoyed this theme you can also check out a previous post on Fantasy Botany, which is mostly stuff that’s already been mentioned in this month’s A to Z, but includes additional pictures.  And speaking of the pictures, unlike my posts on creatures, I had to do a lot more work on these illustrations.  I ended up modifying or creating a number of pictures for plants that didn’t seem to be illustrated anywhere.  I had fun with that, even if it was more work.  (On the other hand, there are very few examples of my own relief block prints for this theme: just E, L, V, and W, and sort of D.  I guess I’ve been slacking on the imaginary plant art, but I do have another of mine for you today.)
        As for reflections on this year, I did manage to keep my posts manageable by limiting myself to about three or four plants per letter, and ruthlessly weeding out extras.  That meant my posts didn’t get overgrown and I kept well ahead of the alphabet in putting them together, which was certainly more pleasant.  Unfortunately, there were far fewer visitors commenting than in past years.  Perhaps magical botany just wasn’t as popular a theme, but I also think most of the blogs I was visiting were getting fewer comments, as well.  For those of you who did stop by and say hello, I certainly appreciated your company!
        I did visit an awful lot of blogs, but slowly pruned down my list over the course of the month to end with about 30.  Which is too many to post here, but a few favorites included

     The Multicolored Diary

     Finding Eliza

     The Great Raven

     How Would You Know

There were also a few blogs that I would have liked to comment on, but I was unable to post on them because they required some kind of login that I couldn’t seem to do.  That was a little frustrating, but technology does seem to like to tease me by making some difficult things possible (such as all the research I do for my posts!) while then turning around and making other simple things difficult.  So it goes.
        Usually I like to include a little extra content in my Reflections post - stuff that I couldn’t fit in elsewhere.  So for today here are a few magical and mythical gardens to visit.  Some have already been alluded to in this alphabet, such as the Garden of the Hesperides where Hera’s golden apples grow (see G), and the garden of Xi Wangmu Queen Mother of the West where she grows her peaches of immortality (see X).  I mentioned the Garden of Eden at K, but there’s also a whole post about it which you can read here.
        Avalon is another magical garden of apples, and another island.  According to some versions, it’s the final resting place of King Arthur.
        In Greek mythology Elysium, where heroes enjoy their afterlife, takes the form of beautiful flowery meadows and fertile gardens.
        Fangmu is one of three Islands of the Immortals, which may actually be gardens atop the backs of giant turtles, which is always excellent.
        In the Hindu epic Ramayana, Ashoka Vatika is a garden in the kingdom of the rakshasa (“demon”) king.  Although it has mythical origins, it is now identified with an actual garden in Sri Lanka.
        The opposite case is the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, which (like Xanadu, a semi-mythical pleasure garden I wrote about in this post), was once upon a time a real place (probably), but has over time become elevated to mythical status.  I made this illustration of my own imaginary version of Hanging Gardens that are more magical than the original was.
        In the fairy tale Rapunzel, the witch’s garden presumably has a certain amount of magic growing in it - including perhaps the herb rapunzel itself.  
        And I have to mention the Secret Garden from the book by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  Although not technically magic, it certainly verges toward magical realism in its life-giving power.  Which serves as a fine moral for today: even the most mundane garden can be amazingly magical!

[Pictures: Flowers, illustration from The Land of Neverbelieve by Norman Messenger, 2012;

Parallel Plants, illustration from Parallel Botany by Leo Lionni, 1977 (Images from Ariel S. Winter on Flickr);

Garden, hand colored wood block print from Buch der Natur by Conradus de Megenberg, 1475 (Image from MDZ Digitale Bibliothek);

Hanging Gardens, rubber block print by AEGNydam, 2021 (Image from]


John Holton said...

Sorry I didn't comment much, but I saw all your pictures and they were very good. Congratulations on finishing the Challenge!

Kristin said...

I do think there were fewer comments, but there were fewer participants too.
I enjoyed your theme and pictures.

Donna B. McNicol said...

Definitely fewer readers, but that's been the trend in the last couple of years on all my blogs, all year round. Congratulations on finishing and I really enjoyed your posts.

Charlotte (MotherOwl) said...

Agreeing with Donna B. McNicol, commenting - and I suppose reading of vlogs has been on a downwards trend these last years. I think that we have reached the low point, and that the next years will see an increase.
I loved you post this time around, and commented more than I use to ;)

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Thanks, everyone. I definitely appreciated all your comments, and glad you enjoyed the theme. =)