Do plants have feelings? Should we ignore it to save our sanity?

Dear reader,

I found myself in a weird predicament this week. Do I leave nature to do its thing or should I intervene?

I shall explain. In one of the gardens I tend, there is a network of ponds. On one of the ponds a pair of Mallard ducks have taken up residence. They are pleasant enough and cause no problems. However,  a pair of male ducks – who are obviously not pure bred and are larger than the resident male are forcing themselves upon the female. She is obviously distressed as she is makes every attempt to run or swim away. There is also considerable noise. Perhaps I am doing the typical human thing of transposing my human emotion onto something that is evidently not human. Mallards are notorious rapists, so I am therefore loath to leave things, but ultimately nature is without emotion. Do I intervene or do I leave well alone?

This predicament led me to some other conclusions. Do I acknowledge the idea that plants possibly have responses other than basic phototropism?

Again I shall endeavour to explain.

In an article I read some years ago, it was reported that a CIA operative decided to carry out experiments on plants using a lie detector otherwise known as a  polygraph. The operative, set up a series of experiments to see if the plant responded to pain. In the first set, the plant was put under stress and mutilation. The results were negligent. However, when other plants were stressed or mutilated the results showed some reaction present. The CIA man was surprised to say the least. In his thorough endeavours to make sure that somehow he was not influencing the test he rigged up a system where live prawns were dropped randomly into boiling water. The experiment was timed and filmed. When he returned some time later, the results were astonishing. There was evidence to suggest that plants do indeed react to harm of others. If you do  not believe me, the book: An index of possibilities: Energy and power [Paperback] will explain further.

Further to this research there have been many studies (the internet and the printed press are awash with such articles,) which suggest plants respond to music. Without going into a great deal of detail, it is suggested hard rock (Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin) can have a detrimental effect, whilst classical overtones and jazz have a beneficial effect. For more information on one such area of research see Dorothy Retallack at the Colorado Woman’s College in Denver. (See the book “The Sound of Music and Plants” by the same author.) If you don’t want to read the book, there is an excellent write up Here. However, further research by horticulture students in 2013, discovered the opposite results. In fact it was found Cliff Richard, that most in-offensive of pop acts – actually kills plants! (But it must be said that foul play was thought be responsible.) SEE HERE.

Further to this article being publshed in 2012, scientists have gone further. They have discovered that plants repsond well to ‘friendly’ neighbours. Sounds generated by microscopic movement within plant cells may be the key. Dr Monica Gagliano of the University of Western Australia, publshing in the online journal BMC Ecology said” Bad neeighbours such as fennel, prevent chilli seed germination using nanomechanical oscillations from inside the cell which allow rapid communication between nearby plants.”

So, armed with these titbits of human endeavour, I am left in a quandry.

Do I prune or do I leave well alone, or do I simply remove myself from my human emotion and get on with life?

Oh, by the way, the bluebells are out! Hooray! (mind you don’t walk on them…)

A bluebell wood in a Sussex clients garden

Happy, schizoid gardening.


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Finally the bit about gardening!

Well folks,

It is raining! Hooray! (Although a bit too late for the hosepipe ban which is now in effect…and why wasn’t there a hosepipe ban last year when it was equally dry?????)

Lots has been happening in my gardening world. Spring had almost sprung, then went back to bed for a lie-in. The Blackthorn is in flower and the weather is almost wintery.

I visited recently the gardens at Munstead Wood, those wonderful ideas that Jekyll laid down all those years ago, with the help of Lutyens. A nice stroll and look about resulted in me discovering a new plant for myself. Sadly, without my note book I promptly forgot it, but suffice to say, it was beautiful, white, spring flowering and rhizomatous. The leaves look remarkably like hemp, so if you know what it is drop me a line. (I didn’t get a photo). Doh! The house itself was reasonably interesting, Lutyens having borrowed many ideas from medieval history, but was firmly seated in the ‘Arts and Crafts’ domain.

Another beautiful moment was the discovery that the Wisteria is flowering. Perhaps a tad early, but nonetheless a welcome sight.

Wisteria sinensis

Despite to grotty, but welcome nonetheless, weather, the dawns have been remarkable on some occasions.

However, there have been some remarkable storms. I myself was caught in a hail storm, the like of which I have never seen in the UK. From clear and warm afternoon to two inches of ice in a matter of minutes was surprising to say the least!

One thing I am worried about is the lack of bees. We are now well into the fruit flowering period, yet unlike last year, there a no bees, save the odd bumble. Considering we had lots of bees on the Camelia flowers in February, this is most concerning. (If you don’t believe me check out the photo…) I have spoken to beekeepers, who have said their hives have collapsed or have simply left. WHAT is going on folk?

bee on Camelia flower, february 2012

However, scientists are scratching there heads as to what will happen in the future.

Fingers crossed then.


Lucky gardening!


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Happiness: again.

Dear Reader,

I feel I owe it to you as all was lost in the move to a new home,  to regurgitate some of my previous witterings in the hope that it sinks in this time and my  whole raison-d’etre on this small blue speck isn’t all a waste of a sad short life.

The Butterfly Effect

“So Guy, remind me: What is happiness?”

Well, as far as I remember happiness is a state of the brain and in turn the mind. A series of chemical and neurological processes, coerced by nature and formed by nurture. Remembering, what the ‘mind’ is would be an extensive philosophical debate ending in the answer “I am. At least I think, I am. ” Remembering also that infections and the misuse of recreational drugs can effect the brains mechanism to produce vital neurotransmitters like Serotonin  and  dopamine – which vitally affect moods. Also scientists now reckon positive thoughts help the cardiovascular health!

Notwithstanding try the following methods, which I have heard said by wise sages over the course of several lifetimes.

1. If you awake every morning and say, “I am glad I am not [fill in blank with something you wish not to be]“,  you are happier in mind than somebody who wakes up every morning and wishes to be something.

2. Equally if you remain in the now, mindful that you cannot change the past and you certainly cannot predict the future, (even if in all probability the twenty tonne juggernaut might hit you any second); you are again more likely to be happy with your lot in life. That was the joy of Pandora’s box after all, hope everlasting.

3. Debt is another influence on one’s happiness. Do not be, or try not to be in debt, be it financially or emotionally. Ask yourself, do I really need to get into debt in order to achieve happiness?

4. Differentiate between happiness and pleasure. Pleasure is short term: A new pair of shoes, that super shiny gardening trowel,  your team winning the championship, the last slice of Victoria sponge and sex are all pleasurable, but do not bring you lasting happiness. Ask yourself; will the activity you are about to embark upon bring you momentary pleasure but won’t in the end bring about emotional and physical happiness? Then perhaps think on.

5. Try not to be hard on yourself. We can’t all be millionaires and we can’t all be the twentieth reincarnation of the Dalai. Enjoy your life and what life throws at you. You are unique and nobody can take that away from you. (Unless you are a cloned sheep, sorry). Your experience on this planet is as valid as anyone else, no matter how insignificant your contribution appears to be.

6. Success can be boiled down to one solitary and simple fact. You have survived. There is nothing more to it.

7. Become a gardener.


May you find a happy path in your garden.



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Happy Eater

Dear reader,

With the odd weather continuing for much of the UK, and me, still updating what was lost in the transfer between web hosts, I shall endeavour to write some gardening blurb soon. In the mean-time, indulge me if you will.

I have a theory.

It is not a concrete theory, based entirely on factual evidence. It is in actual fact conjecture. But nevertheless it is a theory.

Some years ago, when I was bored and wondering upon the meaning of life, the universe and well, you get the idea, I came across an odd piece of research. Somebody had actually sat down and worked out the exact birthday of Jesus. April 17th. They had done this by way of pain-staking research. Time of year, constelllations most likely to be mistaken as a giant star, year, Roman ruler, etc, etc. Thus they had come to this wonderful place. The birthday of a God. Or a prophet. Or a man. Either way, as Jesus is seen at least as a reasonably safe bet to be an historical figure or an amalgim, we have arrived at a birth date.

So, where does that leave my theory. Nowhere as yet. But I shall explain and it will all become clear. If one looks at Roman history, it is alive with psychopaths. Much of the empire was ruled by or indeed managed by psychopaths. People rather like Joseph Stalin, hell bent on autocratic rule, no matter what the cost.

So, if we zip along say 35 years from the date of Jesus’ birth to the time of his demise, we have in Palestine a civil servant who’s sole aim is the extension of power of his paternal autocratic overlord, Tiberius. He sees before him a man who claims to be the son of a random god. He also sees before him, somebody who could cause lots of trouble. So he sits and he listens to the prosecution and decides that Jesus is bad news.  So in his psychopathic manner he nonchalantly washes his hands whilst working out what to do. Then a small dark shard of genius enters his mind. He condemns the man. There are curses and sighs, could this be true. Jesus is to be crucified.  The supporters look about them in worry. “When?” they cry. ” How long do we have?” They ask of the prefect. In a last twist of darkness Pilate turns to Jesus and asks him “When’s your birthday?”

Which explains why Easter is not Oestre and Christmas never was.

Just a theory mind you.

Happy spring gardening!

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