Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
October, 2010
Regional Report

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Aeonium resemble satellite receivers. Are they listening?

Are You Listening?

I believe that because plants are living things, they are therefore deserving of respect. I also believe that they can communicate their needs to a caretaker. For example, wilting is an excellent indication that a plant requires water. A savvy gardener will pick up the message long before the plant has gone to the extreme.

May the Force Be With You
I understand the science behind phototropism, transpiration, photosynthesis and a little bit about the biology that explains the workings of a plant's system - how the roots absorb nutrients and water molecules. However, I also believe that plants have a certain life essence, or, if you prefer, "The Force."

Okay, I'm wacky. I talk to my plants all the time. We have a running conversation, especially at planting time and again at the end of the season, when I apologize for tossing a particular favorite to the compost pile. I cajole, sometimes threaten and always murmur loving compliments for a new bloom or a particularly tasty bit of fruit.

Not Alone
In my own defense, I am not the only person who feels this way. Think of Butterfly and her beautiful Luna, the magnificent redwood tree that she lived in for several years to protect it from the lumber industry. Also remember the Findhorn Garden in Scotland, where ongoing experiments prove that working in harmony with nature produces amazing results. An Internet search for "communicating with plants" will bring up thousands of pages on the subject.

How to "Talk" to Your Plants
Communication with plants means that you have to open your mind to "hear" what they have to say. The first time it happened to me was in the 1970's. I was relaxing after a day of work, sitting next to my favorite Spathiphyllum and wondering if plants have names for themselves. Instantly a voice shouted in my mind "LEESPRA!" Leespra?, thinks me to myself. "LEESRPA" the voice shouted again in my mind. Leespra and I were together for many years and I never referred to her as anything other than her name.

Do you have a favorite plant? Did you ever wonder why you prefer it over others? Perhaps this plant is speaking with you. Although plants do not have brains or a central nervous system they do perceive danger. When connected to polygraph machines (lie detectors), a plant will issue a strong electrical response when threatened. Recently research has indicated that plants can communicate between themselves via a system of networks, much like the Internet links millions of computers. This isn't so far out when you consider that roots are actually touching underground and many plants are connected by runners. If one plant in the network is attacked by insect pests, the others will begin producing a chemical to strengthen their resistance and therefore repel the invaders.

Humans have no physical way to communicate with plants other than our voices. Perhaps the sound of a soothing word creates vibrations that are pleasing to the physiology of a leaf. Simply thinking good thoughts to a plant seems to achieve the same positive results, so perhaps plants are receptive to receiving electrical impulses.

To begin a conversation with your garden, open your mind, sit quietly and be receptive to the thoughts that flow into your consciousness. Personally, I like to announce myself when I enter the garden. "Hey everybody, I'm here! How are you all?" Amazingly, any plant that needs attention will present itself foremost to my mind.

The Quiet Realm
There is a reason why people find solace and peace in a garden. Although we may not realize it directly, we are being loved and cherished by our green friends. Open your mind and be prepared to be amazed.

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