homage to all plants

This is extract from my book ‘the garden of equal delights‘ speaks of our dysfunctional relationship with our world and the damage we habitually wreak upon it.

“Eventually my understanding progressed towards a deeper appreciation of the complex abilities of plants and the delicate precision of their relationships, and as I became more integrated within my own forest garden it dawned on me with ever greater impact just how much we owe to plants. Plants are mediators of transformation on a global scale; they are the weavers and connectors of the living and non-living elements binding everything together. I have become deeply uncomfortable with thinking of, or describing, plants (merely) in terms of their functions. Even if you deeply admire and love trees and plants, and spend much of your time devoted to them and their wellbeing, to see them in terms of their usefulness and to use them purely as functional entities is to make these amazing, gracious beings into servants. Of course that is the prevailing view.”

“Seeing and using plants solely for their functions and their usefulness is, in this revalued world, like valuing your family and friends only for what they do for you. So that, beyond their utility to you, there is no appreciation or love or any reciprocity at all. It sounds appalling doesn’t it? That is how we treat the whole of the wider world – as though it is just there for us humans to take, to have, to own, to eat and to mess up and to destroy. Even those of us who claim to love the natural world and try our best to protect it, still have this attitude: it is ingrained in us and not about to be rooted out any time soon.”

“I would love all gardeners to be able to recognise all plants as precious and valuable and to end the discrimination that is one of gardening’s accepted wisdoms. Some are deemed useful, some are edible and tasty, some are beautiful; some are weeds and some are even designated noxious or thugs, and I would like an end to this. All plants are special. From the tiniest to the most massive they are all wonderful and generous beings. It is the human eye and mind that separates, classifies and accordingly approves, ignores or rejects particular plants. These views are the basis of how we treat (manage) the plant world, cultivating a very few plants on an industrial scale, persecuting others virtually out of existence and all sorts of positions in between. Of course, I used to share these perceptions and I used to treat plants in the same way. Take a view from any other place on the planet, through non-human eyes, and you can see relationships rather than functions, and after a while I began to see them that way as well. Time spent in my garden opened my eyes and mind to a deeper appreciation which I call my ‘homage to all plants’. I have deliberately used an old and unfamiliar word in an attempt to get to the heart of my altered experience of being a gardener edging my way towards fresh understanding.”

Homage is an old-fashioned word which is defined by the Oxford online dictionary as “special honour or respect shown publicly”. Some other definitions relate homage to a medieval serf acknowledging the lordship of their master and it can also have religious connotations in showing worship or deep respect to a deity.

So my ‘homage to all plants’ is in recognition of all that plants are and it is my way of acknowledging a very deep respect and appreciation for all plants; my way of saying that I am deeply indebted to them – in many more ways than I can ever know. What an amazing repertoire belongs to the world of trees and plants. How profound are their life-giving relationships that even now keep our world in food and in balance. Deep respect to you all. I pay homage.

the garden of equal delights pages 124-125

Forest gardening principle: demonstrate appreciation in meaningful and tangible ways.

About Anni Kelsey

I love forest gardens and forest gardening, nature, reading and everything good about being alive. I have written two books - the garden of equal delights (2020) - about the principles and practice of forest gardening; and Edible Perennial Gardening (2014) - about growing perennial vegetables in polycultures, which is basically forest gardening concentrating on the lower layers.
This entry was posted in a different gardener, Forest Gardening, Polyculture learning, Principles of forest gardening, Relationship with nature, the garden of equal delights. Bookmark the permalink.

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