GDG. Blogazine
Garden & The Environment
Do plants have feelings? Should we ignore it to save our sanity?
Categories: Garden ramblings

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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