Trees of Hope and Strength

Mama held him at arm’s length. “You must be strong like the cedars, and the pine trees in in Le Jardin des Plantes. You must not bend like a sapling in the wind. Promise me, Ruben that you will stand tall and fight for what is right no matter what. You must never give up.”

In the version of my manuscript, Beyond Belief, written before I went to Paris, this is what Mama says to Ruben when she drops him off at the Grand Mosque of Paris to keep him safe.

So I was astonished to discover when I got here that Le Jardin des Plantes was so close to the mosque, just across the street in fact … on the other side of Rue Linné.

Trees from Jardin des Plantes visible over the wall of the Paris Mosque

I had stumbled upon Le Jardin des Plantes when I Googled ‘Tall trees that grow in Paris’. I wanted the tree to be a symbol of hope and strength for Ruben. Something of the outside world that might be visible or that he would remember whilst at the mosque.

Tall straight trees in Le Jardin des Plantes

Now here I was, standing in the courtyard looking up at a tall tree from Le Jardin des Plantes as it peered over the walls of the Le Grande Mosquée de Paris.

Le Jardin des Plantes was founded in 1626 and is Paris’ major botanical garden.It is one of seven departments of the Muséum national d’histoire naturelle and covers 28 hectares.

Le Jardin des Plantes was another oasis in the heart of Paris … a city of so much beauty but the scene of so much sorrow.

It’s a stunning gardens … a reminder of renewal and regrowth … of stability amidst turmoil.

Seeing Ruben’s tree peering over the wall of the mosque was a symbolic moment for me. Have you ever had moments like this when you’re researching?

Feel free to share them here.

Happy writing 🙂


This project is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria 

10 thoughts on “Trees of Hope and Strength

  1. Wow! Dee, you must have been blown away when you saw the trees standing in Le Jardin des Plantes, peering over the wall into the mosque. The trees are incredible, and for them to have survived for so long is amazing.

  2. I love following you on this journey. I get chicken skin when I read your descriptions. It’s so perfect, and I know you’ll write it so everyone gets the picture. What age group is this book for?

  3. Thanks Deborah,

    It’s nice to know that you’re right there with me on the journey 🙂

    I’m not really thinking about the age group … I’m just writing the story 🙂 But I think it’s for age 9+. My main character is a ten-year old boy, but there are older children in the story too.


  4. If you need or want a beta reader, I’m happy to do so. This sounds like an amazing story.

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