Paul looks at gardening Superstitions
Gardening Superstitions Fact or Fiction
Recent research has brought age old beliefs bearing on the personality of plants and their links with human life into fresh prominence. Recent investigations have helped to shed some light into various plant folklore, which had often been confirmed by eye witnesses from earliest times, including communication between plant and plant and plant and plant owner and the ability of plants to reveal events.
Plant to Plant
Metaphysical links between one plant and another have long been conjectured. The old saying a tree always does best near a friend can easily be confirmed by practical experiments. In my college days crop science partly explained this by a microclimate caused by the proximity of many growing plants of the same species. I have often noticed that a tree planted on its own frequently appears to grow less well than a young tree planted amongst many. I have heard of a gardener who moved a sickly golden holly, growing on its own and replanted it near a common green holly where it grew exceptionally well. He was sure that it was because it was next to another holly!
Telling the Plants
We have all heard that it was essential for bee keepers to inform their bees of all deaths and family happenings (indeed the practice of “telling the bees” probably still continues) for fear that the bees might fly away or die. in fact in the 1800’s it was believed to be no less important to dress house plants in mourning when a death occurred, lest they too languished in imitation of the deceased.
Out of season blooming of plants was often viewed as a sinister interruption of the orderly rhythm of nature and predicts a death or disaster in the family.
Flowers out of season
Trouble without reason
Particularly dreaded is the second flowering of the Red Hot poker plant, White Roses and the Snowball Tree. But most alarming of all is the second and autumnal blooming of a fruit tree, especially if fruit and blossom should appear on the tree together.
A bloom on the tree when the apples are ripe,
Is a sure termination of somebody’ life.
In 1850 a resident of Tenby in Wales recorded a thought provoking experience:
Last year I was walking in the garden of a neighbouring farmer aged 71. We came up to an apple tree, heavily laden with ripe fruit, and perceived a sprig of very late bloom. He told me rather gravely, that in his boyhood this occurrence was invariably held to herald a death in the family in 2 or 3 months time. On my joking him about welsh credulity, he pretended to not believe the idle lore, but was evidently glad to pass from the subject. His brother aged 68, in perfect health then, who resided in the same house, was dead within 6 weeks! A few weeks afterwards walking in our own orchard I discovered a later blossom and called a man servant, aged 63 to look at it. He at once told me, with some concern that it always foretold death in the family and that he had known many instances. Singularly enough, he himself was dead in a very few weeks.
Talking to Plants
It has been well documented that talking and playing music to plants have had a beneficial effect, in fact many modern day celebs believe that plants respond to kindness and hate to feel neglected. I do not doubt that plants respond to their environment showing empathy to those of us who have “green fingers”. I remember at Kings Lynn Technical College, whilst doing a science course, the biology technician had to grow tomato seedlings for an experiment. After sowing 2 trays of seeds she decided that she would take the same one tray every day into another room and sing to it. Needless to say the results were startling! One tray had 100% germination and the other tray had absolutely no germination. It was a shame that the tray she sang to had no germination, perhaps a comment on her singing prowess!
Over the years I have met many people who have enjoyed gardening, some of which show a much greater ability with plants. Not only have they got a natural eye for landscaping (grouping plants together), they have an ability to take cuttings and make plants flourish. I believe that this comes from a natural ability to observe their surroundings, being in tune to the plants needs and to respond. This natural ability is often called “Green Fingers”.
Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year (even if the chancellor puts VAT up to 20%!!).