The Strange New Flower
story and illustrations
by Adrienne Foster Potter
(Words in this story that might be new for 2nd and 3rd graders: honeysuckle, hummingbird, disease, orchid, neighbor, island, interesting, lilac, iris exotic.)
In a country where there was lots of sunshine and blue sky a man had a very pretty garden. It was full of roses and daisies, tulips and lilacs, honeysuckle and irises, and flowering trees. Among them were green bushes and ferns to show off the color of the flowers. All the flowers were very happy and pleased with themselves for they had heard people say how lovely they were.
One day the man brought home a plant from a far away country. He planted it in the middle of his garden among the roses, tulips, and honeysuckle. The other flowers were shocked. "What a strange flower!" they said. "What if it brings us a strange sickness? What will we do?" They all moved away from it as though it had a disease. The new flower was sad and lonely.
One little white rose saw how sad the new flower looked and felt bad. She moved closer to it and said, "Hello." The new flower, which was pink, replied, "Hello."
"Where do you come from?" asked the little rose.
"I came on a ship from a country across the sea," replied the lonely flower.
"You must have had an interesting journey," noted the little rose.
"Oh yes. I saw islands and beautiful sunrises and other ships on the water. We visited a country where they played a lot of different drums and danced and sang for us, and they had monkeys and parrots. The people came to see me and said what a pretty orchid I am."
"Ah, so you are an orchid," the little rose replied. She had heard the man talk about orchids but had never seen one, and now she had one for a friend.
The little rose asked what a monkey and a parrot were because she had never seen those either, and the pretty pink flower explained. Soon they became good friends and spent many hours talking about all the things they knew and had seen. The little white rose explained to the pink flower about the seasons in this country and about the weather. The pink flower told her all about the country from which she came, and so they both learned and grew together.
The other white roses whispered about the little rose and the pink flower but the two didn't listen and they didn't seem to care. The man soon brought other strange flowers from far-away lands and placed them in the garden. "Here you'll be safe," he told them as he carefully planted them in soft, rich soil and gave them food and water.
The other flowers became worried as they saw how many strangers had come. "They could take over the whole garden!" they cried. "Oh don't be silly!" said the little white rose. These flowers will be our friends." So some of the flowers calmed down and made friends with their new neighbors, but others shunned them and moved away from them. They whispered about them and sometimes pointed, which the little rose thought was very rude.
Some of the orchids were sad but others ignored it. They knew they had as much right to the rich soil and sunshine as the other flowers did.
But when the hummingbirds and bees came the tulips called out, "Don't go to the orchids. They're from a strange land and they might hurt you." Among the hummingbirds was one that the man had brought from a far-away country. "Don't be silly!" the hummingbird told the tulips. "I'm from a different land too and I've given you pollen that made you strong, and I'll give them pollen too!" The tulips drew away in shock. They hadn't known this hummingbird was different, and didn't know they were getting his pollen from a strange land.
All the white roses had made friends with the new flowers because the first little white rose had shown them it was better that way. They told the tulips, "It's wrong for you to be so mean. There's enough soil and air and sunshine for all of us, and enough birds and bees too." This made the tulips be quiet but they kept inside their mean feelings about the new flowers and later they whispered more rudeness. The orchids learned to ignore them, but sometimes it made them sad.
The garden grew and thrived and people came from all around to see the exotic orchids and the other beautiful flowers. When the sun shone it gave its rays to each and every flower, and when the rain came it did the same. When the breeze blew it touched the orchids, the roses, and every other blossom and the dirt was always there, of course, for everyone who needed it.
One day the man moved all the tulips to a far corner of the garden because their season had ended, and so the orchids were at last in peace among the white roses and lilacs and honeysuckle. The other flowers saw that the new flowers had not hurt them or made them sick, and they had not taken over the garden, and so they became more polite. They shared their pollen with their new neighbors and the whole garden lived in peace. Because it had so many different flowers it became the most famous garden in the land.
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