The PC Gamer team becomes competing plants in The Botanist

I have a grievance. The grievance is related to James Biddulph’s The Botanist—a lovely little game about growing plants as a home business. To create a plant you order seeds by typing words into the order form—each word generates a unique plant so I have blooms of "the" and bonsai "Kardashians" and an arrangement of "Kraken" succulents. 

I thought it would be nice to create a plant-based team photo for the UK writers of PC Gamer so I ordered seeds for everyone’s name. There’s a Phil, a Pip, an Andy, a Joe, a Tom and a Sam. I was so excited! But the only pots I had for multiple plants had three slots. I divided us into online and print and started planting. 

That is how The Botanist started feeling like a personal attack on the future of print media. 

See how the proud Joe bloom sways on the left. Look at Tom’s well-defined bluish leaves. Marvel at Sam’s flamboyant pink cocktail decoration-style grass.

Now look at my pink spikes clipping through the pot. Observe Andy’s sickly… tulip?? Gawp at Phil’s unheimlich bonsai as it attempts to grow downwards through the table instead of into the light. 


That is why I decided to grow plants via strategic deployment of full names, job titles and possibly a thesaurus in order to find a way to finagle a more attractive print staff bouquet. 

Let us start with Phil. Or maybe Philip. Or Savage. Or editor? 

A sickly cascade of blue fronds is almost entirely concealed by a grumpy-looking tree as I progress through the possibilities. Those two are both immediately put in the shade by "editor" which generates a flower so extravagantly tall that I can’t actually fit it all onscreen using the in-game camera. That’s more like it!

Next up is Andy. Calling him Andrew is a disaster and results in a jaundiced and stunted succulent. Kelly leads to a weirdly inflexible poker with a blue tip jammed into red and green leaves. Bladerunner offers a clipping cascade of purple. I am furious. 

Section editor is two words but I figure it’s worth a shot. As an insurance plan I turn to Andy himself and demand three random words. Bee, train and fork are duly ordered and I wait for my seeds to plop through the door. 

Section editor is a definite contender, although it might also eat all of the rest of the plants so I investigate the three random words for a more harmonious option. Bee is actually a pretty lilac bonsai which all-but-envelops the ramrod-straight Train tree. Fork is a messy, clashing grass which looks more like a wicker bin. I think maybe Bee? 

My name is horrific. By which I mean that Philippa generates a dead-looking stick with a sprig of blossom on the far end. Fortunately(???) it is concealed by the ostentatious pink waterfall of grasses that is Warr. Deputy, meanwhile, is a disturbing wavy leaf concoction with a green nub clipping through every now and again. 

Time for the random word approach!


Cube and Ottoman are disappointing but Poirot is magnificent. And in the game. I’m in! 

I give the trio a trial run but the balance is off—Poirot’s width and Bee’s volume overpower Editor. Phil must give me a list of words of his own as I try to balance out the arrangement. Bludgeon, hyperactive and magazine offer me both an insight into how the afternoon is going and also three new seeds. 

The problem is, they’re all unsatisfactory, so I actually go back and check in on the original three. It might be that, in context, the Philip grasses offer the contrast and variety that the scene needs? It isn’t. I still hate it and it ruins everything so I start just ordering anything that’s a synonym for magazine. 

Journal is a glowing yellow grass whose simplicity cuts through the flounciness of Bee and the regalness of Poirot. I bung the three of them into a set of pots and admire the result.

What a good looking team. Print wins again! Except we don't and it's a floral disaster and Andy is a weirdly extravagant bee and I am incandescent with word rage. THE END.