human - botanical relationships


When you garden in the same place for a long time, you get to know your plants very well. In fact, you could say that you develop longterm relationships with them.  These relationships are all different. With the Wisteria, I have long given up banishing this plant from the garden. It's a relationship characterized by a sullen fatalistic acceptance on my part that it's here to stay. When I see it I remove whatever I can, which is not much. The Acanthus is similar. It always comes back, but it's not as annoying as the Wisteria.


On the other hand there are those that I have developed a close, loving, intimate relationship with, based on respect and appreciation for their longterm loyalty and reliability. One of these species is  Liriope Evergreen Giant. There are various specimens scattered around the garden, where invariably they grow and flower uncomplainingly for decades, regardless of the weather and whether they are in sun or shade.


The other day I was feeling relaxed, and spent quite a bit of time removing the dead blades of a mature Liriope, by pulling them out with my fingers. After doing this for a while, I had the uncanny feeling that I was grooming it, and that it was enjoying the experience. I even imagined the plant was doing the botanical equivalent of purring.

An unfortunate interaction with another longterm botanical friend happened after the long hot summer just past. Many plants looked dead, and I intended to carefully remove all the dead bits and see what happened. But one day I got impatient, and pulled out a Gastrolobium celsianum (Swan River Pea) by the roots. The plant responded by giving a little resistant tug. It was a clear message telling me the roots held firm and it was alive, just shut down to cope with such a long hot summer. But I was stressed and impatient, ignored the message and pulled harder. Later I felt remorse but it was too late. All I can do is make reparation by nurturing the remaining plants of the same species.

Human - botanical relationships can be as varied and complex as those between humans.




Comments

  1. That's interesting. I think that I have some kind of emotional connection with some of my plants as well...

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    1. I wonder if they hate the long dark winters like you do, Satu.

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  2. Rather like wisteria. But maybe that's because it's harder to grow in England.

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    1. hi lucy, I LOVE wisteria, but in the right place. It used to be divine growing over the deck, scented flowers hanging down. But then it became a monster and started to life the roof tiles! That was the beginning of the end for our troubled relationship ...

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  3. I laughed... "I even imagined the plant was doing the botanical equivalent of purring." You have to wonder if they think you are grazing or grooming. Maybe they think you are just a dumb predator and choosing the wrong leaves.

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    1. now Donna - where's your sense of romance??? Are doubting the clarity of my example of inter-species communication?????

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    2. I don't know, you might be right, at least it is a better story than the plant shaking down the stem wondering your intentions. Purring is better than the little squeak of "Help me".

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  4. I agree ! Like you I have been gardening the same plot for many many years, and you do learn how to relateto your plants. I have some stalwarts which have been with me the whole time, like good, reliable friends, whereas others are very demanding and don't stay around for too long !

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    1. Thanks for the comment Jane. I wonder if you have any demanding ones that refuse to leave?

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    2. Hmmm ! I love Euphorbias but a friend gave me a dwarf one and warned me that it spreads ! She was not wrong ! It is an invasive thug, and grows through everything given half a chance.

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    3. things vary so much in different gardens in different places - I have a few different kinds of Euphorbias and they're very friendly. Not a bit like your nasty dwarf.

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  5. Great post, Catmint. I agree wholeheartedly. Since my gardening interest was sparked just over five years ago, I really feel that there's a relationship growing and deepening. It's a nurturing relationship on both sides.

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    1. hi bernie, lovely to catch up with you again. it's astonishing to realize you only caught the passion 5 years ago.

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  6. Oh, I know my plants very well, and I think they know me! Your wisteria reminds me of my English ivy, which has swamped the woods adjacent to my woodland garden. I watch it like a hawk. I have drawn a line and told it not one inch farther, though there is little I can do to reclaim what it has already taken.

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    1. Hi Deb, my neighbours have grown an ivy-like creeper on the fence - too near for comfort! I know what you mean, I watch it like a hawk too but it's not easily intimidated.

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  7. So interesting. I do tend to talk to my plants. Not sure they always like what I have to say! ;) I do love the giant liriope, and from now on I'll pretend my plants are purring back to me!

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    1. so pleased you like the post. I must say I am having fun with it. Catmint should be extra purry.

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  8. Forming attachments to plants is normal. Liriope evergreen giant is beautiful especially in the shade. There are a few plants that I've always shied away from, some of these include wisteria, rubber trees and umbrella trees. Most have dreadful root systems and wisteria can be a horror if you don't have the room for it's spreading growth and root system.

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    1. Hi Karen, that horror wisteria is here to stay in my garden. You're very sensible to shie away from it and other such plants.

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  9. I try not to get too attached to my green children. The deafening screams of weeding might be more than one could handle.

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  10. There are some plants that I have bitterly regretted allowing through the garden gate, lamium,carex pendula,and a few others, but then I have now got drifts of those I love, snowdrops, fritillaria meleagris, candelabra primulas and meconopsis. It's only with time that you see how plants behave in the conditions that you have, if they don't behave, then it's out it goes!

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    1. hi Pauline, that's the thing - you don't know you've made a mistake until it's too late! But I suppose that unpredictability is what makes gardening always interesting.

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  11. Certainly, Catmint, there are things in the garden you never want to see again. Like you, I have a number of them.
    That's a Nerine you've got there, isn't it? I've had three flower in a pot this year - rarely seen these days, and a pair of miniatures.

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    1. hi Faisal, yes it's a Nerine. I found a couple hiding away in a corner, and transplanted them. I think I bought them decades ago.

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    2. now, how to get MY Nerine to purr back into flower. It just sits there snarling, you DIVIDed us. Won't flower, so there.

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    3. divide and rule the saying goes - but clearly not in the case of nerines. Hopefully they will get less snarly and more compliant in time.

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  12. I am attached to a few of my plants because they remind me of the people who gave them to me. My wisteria (I bought) still has not bloomed. I will spend a morning (one day in the near future) trimming it back and threatening it.

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    1. Hi Joy, I wish you luck with your Wisteria. You might like to check out this site I found, of the most beautiful wisteria in the world:
      http://www.mymodernmet.com/main/search/search?q=wisteria

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  13. There are plants I love, plants that make me happy, and plants I'd be happy to see gone. There are plants that get coddled and the ones that get a little push over the edge of oblivion.

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    1. as long they go over the edge when we want them to ... thanks for the comment.

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  14. Ah catmint, Wisteria! what comes to mind (one mans junk is another mans treasure.) Probably the main difference with this one is simply because its not so very easy to get it blooming in the North East of Scotland.

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  15. I'm not surprised Alistair, I think they need a lot of sun, and I assume in NE (or NW) Scotland there's not a lot of sun? Although here they grow like Jack's beanstalk but often don't flower much.

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  16. I actually haven't thought of it this way, but I think you are right. We do develop a relationship with certain plants. Sometimes nurturing young plants feels almost parental: you protect them, feed and water them, and you hope they'll grow.

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    1. hi jennifer, they are like children, unpredictable!

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  17. I feel that my blooms are so human that I do not like to clip any for the house! I feel I am killing them thus, they remain in the gardens for nature to enjoy....

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    1. hi skeeter, I suppose when we pick flowers for the house we are depriving the birds and the bees of food.

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  18. I agree--some plants are dearer to me than others. I'm not sure it's more the ones I pamper and they reward me by surviving, or the ones that carry on happily with little need of pampering. Some are just special.

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  19. thanks for the visit and comment, Beth.

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  20. Interesting our relationships with plants...those we tolerate as we cannot rid them and those we cherish. I have a fondness for my native wildflowers especially as they emerge in spring.

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    1. I love your native wildflowers too, especially those from California. Californian Poppy has so far emerged each spring in my garden for many years now.

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  21. Hello there!:) I agree. There are some plants that have earned their right to stay in the garden. Through the bad times, good times....the plant still stands the test of time. Hope you are well:)

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    1. thanks chris, I'm well, hanging in there ... through the bad times and good times, just like the plants!

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  22. Gardening is very necessary in home, office, laws, because garden keeps mind pleasant and peaceful and makes mind relax and gives mental relaxation. Gardening Sydney Landscaping Sydney Tree Lopping Sydney

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