Analysis of Synthesis Texts 1 & 2 Gleneagle English Department

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May 3, 2017 Analysis of Synthesis Texts 1 & 2 Gleneagle English Department

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INSTRUCTIONS: Read the following two selections and answer the essay response question that follows.

adapted from One Magical Bloom (04/06)

by Jennifer Lanthier

The Globe and Mail, August 9, 1995

  1. My blue clematis1 bloomed this year. Hardly a news bulletin, I know. I began the day telling friends and relatives in great excitement; then, as they failed to respond in kind, my tone became quieter and my approach off-hand. Eventually, I stopped telling people.

  2. Gardening is taking a bashing these days—too much of a yuppie pastime, perhaps, or worse, too identified with excess, with those wealthy enough to hire others to do the dirty work for them. Whatever the cause, you know it’s out of control, unhip, way uncool, when Chatelaine magazine puts out a special gardening supplement. Or when your neighbour, frustrated from digging out garden beds, takes to saying each weekend: “I’m off to the garden centre, to punch somebody.”

  3. But the blooming of my clematis is a magical thing. Purchased four years ago (back when a slugfest in the garden centre had an entirely different meaning), it was my first real attempt at gardening, beyond impatiens and pansies. I proudly bore it home and left it for perhaps three minutes, under the indifferent eye of my non-gardening spouse and the disdainful gaze of the cat. When I returned with transplanting tools, I found my husband in paroxysms of giggles, the bare root of the clematis neatly severed from its impressive, two-foot growth of vine. The cat, his new collar and leash a bold experiment, had a mouthful of elegant green tendrils. I planted the root anyway. The cat was banished indoors.

  4. Years passed and the gardens, front and back, became awash with fashionable perennials2: poppies, periwinkle, peonies, bergamot, bleeding heart, monkshood, delphinium, sea lavender, bell flower, flax and phlox. Neighbours to the east and west took to gardening, too, and beds of vegetables, annuals3 and perennials found a place beside shrubbery and garden sheds. But still the clematis refused to bloom. Yet it did not die; each year it pushed new, leafy growth along the lattice. But the deep blue petals so longed for did not appear.

  5. A single clematis is no big deal, friends with gardens said. Just because some plants thrive doesn’t mean all will—maybe your soil is too acid, too clay, too dry, too alkaline. Perhaps you need more sun or less, a more sheltered corner, less competition from other plants. Some clematis need to be cut back, others left alone—which kind did you plant, they wondered. But the label and instructions had been lost in the maelstrom of the cat attack. I had no idea what I was dealing with.

  6. Somehow, coaxing a bloom—just one—from this stubborn plant became the only thing barring me from enjoying my garden. And my garden had assumed a significance in my life that is hard to convey. You might assume it’s just a generational thing: an impulse over which I had no control.

  7. In truth, my garden is a link to my family.

  8. I can see my mother skeptically raising her eyebrows, too aware of my coming of age in a time of annuals. But during a childhood that seemed to be spent moving around from one small Ontario town to another, I found my mother’s garden a touchstone, a proof of home.

  9. Whenever our family moved, we could look forward to the brave red of her salvia, the velvety faces of her pansies and the welcoming scent of marigolds and alyssum. When we lived in Northern Ontario, we waited eagerly for Christmas and my grandfather’s gift of amaryllis bulbs to grow indoors, the instructions followed precisely, the growth monitored obsessively, until at last the showy blossom brought a winter garden to our snowbound house.

  10. My grandfather, my father’s father, was the acknowledged head of gardening in the family. His Montreal garden enchanted passersby, who caught their breath at the variety of roses he cultivated year after year. His wardrobe was permanently mired in the 1940s (while my grandmother’s, oddly, was stuck in the 1960s), and their dilapidated three-storey Victorian house went far too many years in need of basic repairs. The two things most important to them, however, were always in abundant supply: inside the house, books; outside the house, plants.

  11. My grandfather was a perfectionist, whether pruning roses, ruthlessly uprooting a rare mistake of a laburnum, or letting the raspberry canes achieve just the right tangledness in the wild corner of the garden. He grew everything in his garden, it seemed, from the vivid scarlet of bergamot to the deep, deep blue of clematis, on a trellis near his shed. But the roses were his pride. He worked his way steadily through their beds, explaining his actions with gentle clarity, then barking out related quotations from Shakespeare’s sonnets, or Latin phrases, daring you to admit, at the age of 10, that you did not recognize or understand.

  12. I bought my clematis when he died. Not a rose. How can I explain this? It would have seemed presumptuous.

  13. My grandmother—the woman my grandfather called his Irish rose, the most beautiful flower in his garden—died the following year. She was a very determined woman. It was her wish that she not endure another cold Montreal winter without him, another summer of dying roses.

  14. Last year, my clematis bloomed: one single, spectacular, deep-blue flower. It opened on the morning my first child, my daughter, was born. Pausing in front of the verandah, reluctant to leave for the hospital, I pointed it out to my husband. He refused to be distracted from the two minutes remaining between contractions.

  15. But later that morning, we gave our daughter my grandmother’s name.

  16. This year, as spring unfolded, I watched the clematis curiously. Would it? Wouldn’t it? On the morning of my daughter’s first birthday, and not a day before, a half-dozen brilliant blue flowers unfurled their petals.

  17. Next year, perhaps, I’ll plant a rose.


    1. clematis: a flowering vine

    2. perennials: plants that grow back every year

    3. annuals: plants that last for one season only.

“One Magical Bloom” by Jennifer Lanthier from The Globe and Mail. Wednesday, August 9, 1995. © 1995. Used under the CanCopy Copyright Modernization Act Used “Fair dealings for education.

Dearest Margaret (01/11)

by Eleanor Byers

Yes; we’ve agreed, when we grow newly old

to live side by side on your farm in Vermont

where we can raise goats

the small brown kind, following close

5 and bleating of love.

We’ve said we want cats, all colours of cats

to play in the shade on hot summer days,

to purr by the stove when evenings are cold.

And, Margaret, remember our plan to grow plants

10 with long Latin names

and prizewinning Bibb lettuce

for good-tasting salads.

You’ll make tabbouleh (you do it so well).

I’ll roast a capon (with shallots and beans).

15 How well we will dine

drinking mint tea or watered white wine

followed by cheese and sweet almonds.

Indeed, we can travel

wherever we like

20 as long as we’re home by noon

to pet the cats, feed the goats,

water the prizewinning lettuce.

When winter snow falls

we will pull on tall boots and warm, woolly coats

25 and slosh down our paths to the tin mailbox

by the side of the road.

To the postman we’ll offer our best apple tart

hot from the oven, with cream

in exchange for choice letters.

30 (We’ll write them ourselves!)

Oh, Margaret, let’s read Ulysses

(again) and this time, patient with age,

unravel the prose of James Joyce.

“Dearest Margaret” by Eleanor Byers from If I Had My Life to Live Over, I Would Pick More Daisies. Copyright © 1992 by Papier-Mache Press. Used under the CanCopy Copyright Modernization Act Used “Fair dealings for education.

INSTRUCTIONS: In multi-paragraph (3 or more paragraphs) expository essay of at least 300 words answer the question below in the Response area. Use the Organization and Planning space to plan your work. The mark for your answer will be based on the appropriateness of the examples you use as well as the adequacy of your explanation and the quality of your written expression.

  1. Discuss how the speaker in “Dearest Margaret” would react to the narrator’s appreciation of gardening in “One Magic Bloom”.

Put Your Title Here

Type your essay here.


This is a first-draft response and should be assessed as such.

The response is assessed holistically.


The six essay is superior, demonstrating an insightful understanding of the texts. The essay shows a

sophisticated approach to synthesis, including pertinent references. The writing style is effective and

demonstrates skillful control of language. Despite its clarity and precision, the essay need not be error-free.


The five essay is proficient, demonstrating a clear understanding of the texts at an interpretive level.

The essay clearly synthesizes the concepts within the texts. References may be explicit or implicit and

convincingly support the analysis. The writing is well organized and reflects a strong command of the

conventions of language. Errors may be present, but are not distracting.

The four essay is competent. Understanding of the texts tends to be literal and superficial. Some synthesis

is apparent. The essay may rely heavily on paraphrasing. References are present and appropriate, but may be

limited. The writing is organized and straightforward. Conventions of language are usually followed, but

some errors are evident.

The three essay is barely adequate. Understanding of the texts may be partially flawed. An attempt at

synthesis is evident. References to the texts are not clearly connected to a central idea or may be repetitive.

The response may be somewhat underdeveloped. A sense of purpose may be evident, but errors can be


The two essay is inadequate. While there is an attempt to address the topic, understanding of the texts or

the task may be seriously flawed. An essay that makes reference to both texts but refers only fleetingly to

one of them is inadequate. The response may be seriously underdeveloped. Errors are recurring, distracting,

and impede meaning.

The one essay is unacceptable. Although the essay mentions both texts, the essay is too brief to address the

topic or there may be a complete lack of control in the writing.

The zero essay reflects a complete misunderstanding of the texts and/or the task, or is a restatement of the

question. Exclusive reference to only one text does not constitute synthesis. Exclusively narrative responses

reflect a complete misunderstanding of the task.

*Any zero paper must be cleared by the section leader.

A blank paper with no response given.

© R. Scott Findley ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This document contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author / publisher.

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