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Posts Tagged ‘plants’

Wow! Just look at this poppy which has opened up in the garden a couple of days ago. I went in close to take this photo because I think when you look really closely you see an astonishing creation.

This is like a work of art. In fact, who would have imagined something like this if they hadn’t seen a flower before? I was thinking, what if an alien landed on Planet Earth and encountered this poppy, wouldn’t they be utterly amazed?

Actually, I’m not an alien here on Planet Earth but I am totally amazed by this. Look at the details! As well as the gorgeous red petals, right in the centre we can see this rich, dark array of structures which make up the reproductive system of this flower. The thirteen stripes on the seedhead – what are they? And why are there thirteen? Don’t you think thirteen is a strange number?

Honestly, I think you can lose yourself in contemplation of a glorious flower like this. On single plant, one single blossom, totally captivating.

And it won’t be here for long. Within a few days, all the petals will fall to the ground, ultimately only leaving the seedhead behind. I think it’s amazing. I’m transfixed! In fact, a simple, astonishing, utterly beautiful, intricately complex flower like this, can make me lose my sense of boundaries and separateness. I can experience transcendence in moments spent with a flower like this.

I guess we humans have been, and continue to be, pretty blasé and unthinking about the plant kingdom. But without it, none of us would be here. It’s the plants which capture and transform the Sun’s energy. We can’t do that. We eat the plants, or eat the animals which eat the plants, so existing a bit further along that chain of energy transformation to get what we need to survive and thrive.

It’s not just that there is an emerging consensus that plant-based diets are best for us in terms of health, they are best for us in terms of the planet too. I’m not vegan. I’m not even vegetarian. But I don’t eat meat every day, and in all the studies I’ve read over the years, time and time again, the conclusions seem to be, if you want a healthy life, and if you want a long life, you could do worse than to limit your meat consumption and move towards a plant-based diet.

There are many many studies now which also show us the benefits to our immune systems, to our inflammatory systems, and to our mental health, of spending time in, and connecting with, the natural world. Primarily, that’s the plant world of trees and flowers. So, it’s not just about seeing plants as a source of nutrition. Engagement with the plant kingdom is good for us every day – noticing, stopping, gazing, contemplating, wondering about, and, especially caring about, flowers, plants, trees is one of the best ways I know to increase the quality of everyday life, and to set yourself up to live as healthily as possible.

Glory to the plant world!

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delicate plant ghosts

This tiny little plant is only about the size of my little finger. It’s so small, it would’ve been easy to miss it, but I’m glad I didn’t.

It inspires me for so many reasons.

I love the fact that what catches the attention is the spaces. They’re the first thing you notice. Almost as if when looking at a net you’d see the holes first, then the thread. And what was in those spaces? Some kind of seed I expect. This framework was most likely the structure that held the seeds in place, raised them up to the sky and waited till the wind blew and took them away to settle somewhere else. That got me thinking about seeds, and how many amazing ways plants have to spread their seeds around the world, how they’ll use the wind, insects, birds, really pretty much any way they can to hitch lifts, travel far and wide without any power to move in the seed itself. This set me thinking about the interconnectedness of everything, of how the world is a vast interconnected network, how really you can’t understand anything or anybody without knowing something of the world they live in and some of their vast web of connections, influences, links and bonds.

Then I got to thinking about how this little group of circles held up the past for inspection. Look, said the plant, here is where my sons and daughters were, and now they’ve all flown and I’ve only the spaces now in my life, where they used to be. And that’s just how it should be.

I had other thoughts too, but I’d be interested to hear if this little plant inspires any thoughts of your own!

delicate plant ghosts

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I wandered into the Cathedrale Saint-Saveur in Aix en Provence the other day. It’s one of those awe-inspiring spaces. In fact, it’s a multiple of spaces inside, some vast, and some small and intimate. I’m always interested in the way plants are used by human beings (enthobotany is the correct term!) and so it was no surprise to see the prominence of lilies in the cathedral.

lilies in the church

Lilies are one of those plants which have special spiritual signifance over many centuries. If you ever wander around a gallery of French or Italian paintings for example, you’ll spot lily plants in many of the religious ones. The white lily is sometimes referred to as the “Madonna Lily” which further conveys the extent to which people have imbued this plant with spiritual significance.

The scent of lilies is very, very strong. I find it quite overpowering. In fact, it doesn’t take long before I feel rather queasy in a room full of lilies. It’s a pity for me because I think they are very beautiful but I can’t have them in my house. Fortunately, the cathedral is so large I could escape the scent of the lilies pretty easily.

What did surround me absolutely everywhere was the music. They were playing Thais’ Meditation. You know it? Here’s Sophie-Anne Mutter playing it. It’s one of those pieces of music that always, but always, makes me feel tearful. It moves me in my core.

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purple flower, originally uploaded by bobsee.

Does anyone know what this plant is called?
It’s about 12 inches tall and grows in the verges at the sides of the road. This one is just outside Aix en Provence
I’ve never seen a flower like this in Scotland and I’d like to know what it is.
Can you help?

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