It was disappointing.

Every year, Hoban planted the dearly-bought seeds. He added fertilizer to the soil and watered the small patch of ground. According to the packet, he should have a lush bouquet of pink and white carnations to give his mother for her birthday.

He would go outside and sit by his tiny garden, telling the seedlings jokes and riddles, reciting poems and limericks. Sometimes he even brought his dinosaurs out and they would put on stage shows for the sprouts.

His mother would ask what in the world he was doing, spending so much time outside when it was always so grey and congested with smog, but he would only smile to himself and fill a plastic cup with water from the tap - better for the plants than the polluted rain, he reasoned - on his way out the door.

Every year, all he grew were weeds.