The Gardens of Master Benjamin
Of all the many rare vines and bushes in the gardens of the Blackburn Manor, there are few not brought there intentionally by Benjamin Blackburn. Of all the interests and preoccupations that take up bandwidth of the dark and brooding wizard, this one is the dominant and recurring theme of his story. And strangely, if you were to take a gander at the nature of these wild and woolly green things, you would think they'd be made up of some dank and dark things. But not so. Not to say that there were the odd poison plant or thorny thistle, but among these were an overabundance of many flowers and fruits meant to simply delight and to fulfill delicious purposes. If you were to truly see into the heart of this brooding wizard, you would recognize a hurt little boy longing for healing and to provide help. Though it would be foolish to not consider what kind of friends a hurt little boy might make along the way, and the tendency of these associates to defend their friend.
Gardening wasn't always an art practiced to perfection by Master Benjamin. He had had a long and tumultuous relationship with pets in the past. In his youth, there was a strange pattern of zombie rats that seemed to follow him wherever he went. And then there was the baby salt water croc he insisted on keeping and lost.
Once he discovered plants, he laid off the pets as a general rule, or just kept one cat at a time. Sometimes he'd keep the odd reptile (who inevitably would come up missing; he was always letting them roam in the yard), and the attendant colony of rats to feed them, but that was it.