I’m delighted to welcome Nicky Johnston and Maggie Best to share their sunflower stories. Nicky Johnston is an illustrator and Maggie, an author. These two ladies are continuing the ‘Story of a Sunflower.’  Happy reading and keep spreading sunshine and inspiration.


I received a special little bag of 24th Generation Bryce Courtenay’s sunflower seeds which my 8 year old son and I have taken great delight in planting. Our little pots have become our babies.

We water them daily, but not too much. We place them in the sunshine, but move them to the shade when it is hot. We research the weather forecast to predict where our babies should spend their day, keeping them safe from wind and pesky earwigs.

Each day after school, my son races outside to measure how many millimetres each seedling has grown, and how many pairs of leaves have appeared on their stems. This initial growth is clearly visible almost happening before our very eyes. After just one week, the seedlings have four leaves and are standing tall reaching for the sky.

As the visible growth slows, I remind my son that we never stop growing, that our growth isn’t always seen and that sometimes we need to grow on the inside too. It’s at this point, he notices that there are tiny roots breaking their way out of the bottom of the seedling pot.

“They are growing in places we can’t see, to give them strength so we can move them into the next size pot.,” he tells me.

Our sunflowers are still growing and as we continue to water and take care of them, we make sure that we notice even the littlest of changes.

Thank you Juliet for giving me the chance to discuss with my son the journey of growing – that even if we can’t see drastic changes, we are forever growing in some way.

Nicky Johnston

nicky 2 nicky 3



My name is Maggie Best and like Juliet, I write young adult fiction. Juliet and I discovered one another through a writer’s masterclass begun by the incomparable Bryce Courtenay and continued by the irrepressible Fiona McIntosh; Juliet was in Bryce’s last class and I was in Fiona’s second one.

At the conclusion of Bryce’s last class he gifted each student with a potted sunflower. Juliet decided to share her gift with others, like me, who had been touched in various ways by Bryce, by gifting the seeds of that sunflower.

For me, Bryce was an inspirational storyteller whose stories filled me with a longing to tell my own tales. Listening to him talk about writing made me believe I could give it a go too.

When I heard of Juliet’s story I contacted her and asked if I could share this legacy. To my delight she kindly sent me a few seeds. I planted them and was amazed to see them sprout after only a few days. I shared their progress with Juliet who was as thrilled as me.

After they flowered I gathered the seeds and stored them away for planting this year which I have just done. They should sprout any day now, and so Bryce’s love of life and nature will continue, thanks to a young lady with a like desire to spread sunshine.

Thanks Juliet, for allowing me to be a part of this lovely legacy. I’m proud to be one of your honorary aunties and proud of your efforts to keep Bryce alive in our hearts.

Maggie Best

Maggie Sunflower 1

Maggie sunflower 2




Back to Blog Page