We’ve all always wanted to know…

The secret life of plants.

48 responses to “We’ve all always wanted to know…

  1. The Secret Life of Plants

    Off the top of my noggin…

    In a grove where all plants thrive, the species were bragging about their importance in love.

    The tea bush said, “I provide lovers a refreshing drink, either hot or iced.”

    The rose bush said, “My exquisite blooms and fragrance excite the senses of lovers who pick me.”

    The orange tree said, “My fresh citrus juices nourish and refresh, either eaten or squeezed.”

    The oak tree said, “My foliage shades and comforts those who cuddle under my boughs.”

    The marijuana plant said, “When lovers smoke me, they lose their inhibitions, and their extacy is heightened.”

    The poison ivy said, “And when the lovers lie upon me, I leave them with an unforgettable memory.”

  2. An Aside: A good read–The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating.

  3. The BLT

    Help, help I’m being poured out of my package. Now I’m being stuck in something warm and damp. I think I’m being planted, but it’s only April. It’s too early I’ll freeze to death. Tomatoes aren’t supposed to be planted until Mother’s Day. Oh I see I’m in a tray with all my companions from the package. I think that’s an artificial light. Boy this is nice. It shines for about 12 hours a day. I can grow in this. In about seven days I’ll be sprouting. Nice!

    This has been a spa life for us. For the past six weeks every couple of days we receive a nice warm shower and each day we grow stronger. Oh no, what’s happening now I’m being dug up. Please don’t tear my roots. I’m being put in small container. Great that will give me more space to grow.

    I’m being put outside. I hope the weather doesn’t go below 50 tonight. But this will give me some time to learn how to be an outdoors tomato.

    The wind is flying past my little weak branches. I hope I don’t break. This is good though it’s like a workout building my strength to when I do go into the ground. I’ll call it my daily workout. I’ll be really strong if I stay out in the warm shaded area until I go into the ground. Look at my muscles.

    Mother’s day is only a week away. I hope I’m placed in the nice comfortable garden with a fence to guard me from deer.

    Finally Mother’s Day. The big day I’m going into the ground. The soil is warm and, bless my soul, even some fertilizer. I’m sitting right next to a big metal stake. That will help me stand up when I grow up to be a nice ripe, big juicy tomato. I will then be ready for two slices of bread, four or five pieces of bacon and lots of mayo I hope my package buddies are being treated like this.

    I can’t wait until August.

  4. The weevils at work
    in the lush spring alfalfa
    breathe with a scythe

  5. You must be a great lover of tomatoes to have become one in order to write this interesting journal. You’ve sure made my mouth water for my very favorite sandwich. I love lots and I mean lots of Miracle Whip rather than mayo.

    I’ll think of you in August, G-pa.

  6. A Day In The Life Of A Tree

    Feel the wind burn through my skin
    The pain, the air is killing me
    For years my limbs stretched to the sky
    A nest for birds to sit and sing

    But now my branches suffer
    And my leaves don’t bear the glow
    They did so long ago

    One day I was full of life
    My sap was rich and I was strong
    From seed to tree I grew so tall
    Through wind and rain I could not fall

    But now my branches suffer
    And my leaves don’t offer
    Poetry to men of song

    Trees like me weren’t meant to live
    If all this world can give is
    Pollution and slow death.

    Oh Lord I lay me down
    No life’s left to be found
    There’s nothing left for me…

    ‘A Day In The Life Of A Tree’
    (C) 1971 Brother Publishing Co (BMI)
    Written by Brian Wilson and Jack Rieley forty years ago, but apparently no factory owners or über-consumers listened.

    There’s an amateurish but nevertheless moving cover of the song on YouTube at

  7. “Thank you for calling ‘First Impressions P.R. Inc.’ how may I direct your call?”
    “I would like to speak to Skip Chatterly please.”
    “Who may I say is calling?”
    “Dan D. Lion.”
    “Ok, Mr. Lion, I’ll see if Skip is available, please hold.”

    “Skip here, who’s there?”
    “Dan.”
    “Hi Dan, what can I do for you today?”
    “Well, Mr. Chatterly, I am the President of “Floral Order of the Taraxacum Officinale.”
    “The what?”
    “Commonly known as the Dandelion…you know the bright yellow flowers that pop up every spring and bring beauty and glee to millions and millions of people.”
    “Dandelions…they are weeds in my yard…pesky little buggers, I can’t get rid of them.”
    “Precisely the point of my call Mr. Chatterly. Our numbers are legion; our radiant splendor makes even the blandest plot of land glow in gold tones under the springtime sun. We have been much maligned over time and we would like to hire your firm to give us a new image.”
    “A new image Dan?”
    “Yes, Skip. We believe that with the proper branding and an effective advertising campaign the Dandelion could and should be more popular than the highly over-rated rose. Think about it Skip, you lop of a roses’ head and it takes weeks for it to recuperate, fragile little wimps. Whack our heads off and we are back in your yard within hours in even stronger numbers and more determined to survive than ever. We are not only lovely to look at, but we are also useful. Our leaves are edible, our blossoms are medicinal and we make a delicious potent potable that could leave W. C. Fields speechless. What does a rose have other than hips?”
    “I get your point Dan, but my father-in-law owns a flower shop and I believe that taking on your account might be a conflict of interest. I would not want to upset my wife or in-laws. Surely, you can understand that, right?”
    “Remember, Skip, I know where you live in that Taupe Ghetto in Suburbatory with the manicured lawn. My friends and I can make life miserable for you and your haughty neighbors. Think about it Skip. Mull over the options and I will call tomorrow for your final answer.”
    “I leave you with a quote from the best actor to ever live, Arnold Schwarzenegger,
    I’ll be back….and back…..and back….and back…and back….and back….and back….

  8. galelikethewind

    The Secret Life of Plants

    The original Ford Plant in Dearborn, Michigan has roots that stretch back over one hundred years. Henry Ford himself designed the revolutionary assembly line configuration. The Ford Plant has always been a proud plant, and very aware of its heritage.
    The Chrysler Plant, just eleven miles down Michigan State Highway 10, was just a youngster in comparison to Henry’s Plant.
    “Hey kid, what’s new?” tooted the Ford Plant’s ancient noon whistle Morse Code.
    “Don’t call me kid, old timer! “ the Chrysler Plant answered with its new digital noon klaxon, “You still painting all your cars black over there?”
    The two Plants really enjoyed their repartee, and over the years had developed sort of a love-hate relationship.
    “We are moving back to Electric cars again,” said the Ford Plant, “How about you?”
    “We are still trying to pay off the Government Loan of 2008,” tooted Chrysler, “and that hasn’t given us much time or money for innovation. “
    “I was very relieved that our guys didn’t have to go on the dole,” tooted the Ford Plant, “The Unions finally wised up and gave control back over to management. I am turning out better quality cars than ever before in my history. Too bad your owners are still living in the Stone Age.”laughed Ford.
    “Ah well, such is life,” groaned the Chrysler Plant in its eerie low tone, “talk with you next week.”
    The air fell silent once again, and the two Plants ceased their conversation. Too bad we can only talk on Sunday mornings when everyone is at home, thought Chrysler. I hate to admit it, but I think I could learn a few things from the old Ford Plant.

    • It took me a moment to get it. Ha! That was good.

      • Galelikethewind

        Like Mark Twain said, “the right word is really a large matter – it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning! ”
        So the fact I left out “in” just before Morse Code hindered the clarity of that scene ..

  9. The Christmas tree stood there, stripped of decorations, but not yet taken down. It was dry. It sagged. There was a thinness to it that I had not noticed while it was full of lights, colored balls and glass icicles. I sat across the room and tried to grasp what I was seeing—a tree in my living room, offering me its shape, its dark green color, its emptiness. In particle physics there is a theory called entanglement. In that theory, certain elementary particles are connected over distances, so that a change in one will result in exactly the same change in the other. I reached out to my tree to see if we were connected in some entangled way. Both of us had shed the holidays, lying open to the winter storms to come. My balsam fir was enjoying her last night of warmth. Tomorrow she would be put outside for the birds and the rabbits to hide in as they pursued their endless search for food and shelter. I would remain indoors, pursuing own my endless round of life’s chores, much of them having to do with food and the preservation of shelter. But for now, the bare tree and I considered each other–our emptiness that would need filling, our respective search for new roles, new meanings. We humans struggle and seek. The winter snows are deep; needs press; spring remains unimaginable. This tree is dead; I am not. I choose to entangle myself in memories of her at her best–shining and color-filled, spreading her branches over the gifts of those we love and who love us.

    • Great word pictures! The 2012 Holiday’s are over, yet we go on grateful for their gifts, This struck me as prose as poetry. Loved it. Thanks, and all the best in 2013!

    • Very nice meditation on the cycle of life. It got me to think, and that’s always important to me in what I find to read. BTW– I think you’ve got something going there (for your SF and fantasy side) with the concept of entanglement. I’ve read articles recently (Scientific American, maybe?) that the entanglement of particles in the fifth (and higher) dimensions required by String Theory leaves open the possibility of a whole system of quantum computer-like action at a distance. Rich B’s approach is interesting, but your entanglement concept could work without a “secret life of plants.”

    • galelikethewind

      So much depth to your tale. Really enjoyed the analogies.

    • Lovely, Ann. Nice reflection for the new year! Happy New Year to you!

  10. Poignant without being overly sentimental, good job.

  11. Happy New Year 2013 to all! For my new year’s resolution I decided to do more writing practice. Here it goes:

    It’s time for writing practice. I slide into my brown leather desk chair, place my hands on the well-worn keyboard and fire-up MS Word. As Word loads, I raise my eyes above the Dell monitor and peer through the window I sit in front of to look for something to write about. I notice a verdant box hedge standing vigil just outside my study window. This hedge has been here for over 20 years yet I have not really seen it . When I look out the window my eyes usually fall on an orderly row of tall Eastern White Pine trees across the street or the newly renovated colonial on the corner. The hedge is overlooked, just like the air I breathe, it is unnoticed.
    Starting a flow of free-writing in a flow of consciousness, I type: “I think I have ignored this box hedge, but has it seen me?” As this sentence completes, I hear an earthy voice say, “Hello Rich!” The voice is strong, but I can’t tell if it is male or female.
    No one is home, the doors and windows are locked. I grab a baseball bat out of my study closet and stay still.
    The voice continues, “I’m the entity you call Box Hedge. My real name is Lucent Flow, but you can call me Flow for short”.
    I stammer out loud, “Stop…. Whoever you are, just stop! What do you want?”
    Flow replied, “I don’t want anything anymore. You noticed me, that is what I wanted”.
    “You expect me to believe that I am talking to a plant, I said, “You better get a check-up from the neck up and tell me who you are!”.
    “We are talking now and we have communicated before Rich”
    “What do you mean? Explain yourself”.
    “Rich, everything in the universe is connected, including you and I”.
    “Yes, I believe in connectedness, but that does not imply that I talk to box hedges! Who are you?”
    “Let me break it down for you”, Flow said, “I sense you are ready for this. Everything is connected through energy. Plants are the primary consumers of the Sun’s energy. Plants are not only nurtured by that energy, but plants and humans transmit and store information through a system supported by the sun’s energy. Information transfer occurs through the oxygen plants produce (and humans consume) and through the CO2 that humans produce (and plants consume)”
    “That is just a little too woo-woo for me” I reply, still holding my bat.
    “I know that it sounds unreasonable, but that is the way it works”, said Flow, “All plants and humans are connected, or you might say networked through this Oxygen-CO2 cycle; we share a common experience and knowledge set. I have not moved from in front of your window in New York, but if I wanted to see what is happening in Paris, I can get that info from the network even though I am firmly planted in front of your house. Here is how the cycle works: The Sun provides energy, the plants’ process creates oxygen. The oxygen is consumed by humans. Human thought-data is embedded in the CO2 that humans exhale. Plants ingest the CO2 imbued with data from human experience. Plants then redistribute the data by embedding it in the oxygen during oxygen production. There is an enormous amount of space to store data in plant root systems and there is an indexing mechanism for data retrieval and transport in the space between the atoms of Oxygen and CO2. The human race has been creating and accessing a neural network through plant assistance and sun energy for eons.”
    “This is freaking crazy”, I say as the bat drops from my hands, “Why have I not heard you before? Why has this network not been discovered?. Why don’t we know about it already?”
    “Yes, fully agree it is hard to believe”, said Flow, “But you have heard me before, UNCONSCIOUSLY. I know you think you have a Muse, a source of inspiration that strikes you. Your Muse is the ethereal network that has been transforming human consciousness and progress for millions of years. You need to understand that the learning, knowledge and experience of over 63 billion humans that ever lived IS EMBEDDED IN THE NETWORK. Do you think it is a co-incidence that the most rapid rise in technology and culture happened in the 20th Century along with its most destructive wars? Efficiency, whether negative or positive, is predicated on accumulated knowledge. The network is a learning system and “Inspiration” strikes those who are ready and receptive to tapping into the network”.
    All I could say after this was, “Flow, if you don’t mind I’m going to have to process this for a while. I’m in shock”.
    Flow replied, “I understand. Take your time. I love writing with you and I’m happy to be your Muse. Just remember to leave your window open and breathe in deeply. It’s more like aspiration than inspiration. We have lots to do together. I need your help to share this awareness and move it in the positive direction since the sun shines on both positive and negative, the good and the bad. Just keep an open mind along with an open window.”
    I thanked Flow for trusting me with this secret of the plants.
    Then, I got up, closed the window, put the baseball bat back in the closet and captured this encounter before the details were lost.

  12. Love it! Reminds me of “Avatar”.

  13. Thanks Bob! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I was also reminded of Avatar as when I stumbled upon the concept of plant roots serving as a secret archive of human experience. This was a fun write for me.
    -Rich

  14. Obituary for Franklin Roosevelt Fern 1976-2012

    Franklin Roosevelt Fern was born of good stock on 1976 in Beaverton, Oregon. He was adopted at age twelve by loving parents and given a good stable home during his youth and thereafter. He grew tall and vibrant and received many accolades for his handsome and stellar looks. His adoptive parents moved many times during his lifetime, always making sure he had the best room in the house in which to thrive and interact with the family.

    Franklin grew at an accelerated rate during his teens and twenties most likely from the loving nurturing of his mother. His favorite holiday was Christmas as he enjoyed the colorful decorations that adorned his fronds and the festivities along with his family.

    Franklin declined rapidly in the last several years of his life. Books were consulted and opinions gathered as to what ailed him. His healthy exuberance was subdued and he became less and less vigorous. A last ditch transplant endeavor was undertaken, but alas, it was too late, and he lost his battle to survive.

    We will miss your magnificent presence in our lives and appreciate the beauty you brought to our home these past 27 years.

  15. Enjoyed this. Did Franklin turn to firewood?

    • No, just a pickup full of tangled roots, dirt, and brown fronds! I still have some of his roots in a pot by my window upstairs- just in case he still has some regeneration of life in him this spring. Thanks!

  16. The Plant:

    Well Hello: right now I am frozen under a layer of ice. The ice protects me for the winter cold. It also give my grower a chance to spread sand on the ice for me. When the ice melts, the sand gives my roots a new lease on life. Since I need sand to grow in. I love sandy soil and water. The salt air helps me all year round. Since I only grow in a few places.

    Spring brings a new day for me and I shine the green is dotted with small pink flowers. I think I am very pretty and when folks ride by they see my bog full of pink flowers and know soon I’ll be growing into a berry of green. As the season grow cool I start to turn white then red.

    When fall comes and it turns cool some night my growers have to spray the bogs to keep the frost from hurting me. I am given a coat of ice to survive the cold fall nights. Around Oct my grower starts thinking of my harvest. People come from far and wide to see this done. I am also the guest of honor in many festivals. Trains take people around my bogs to watch the folks harvest me. It is a fun sight.

    There are two way to harvest me. One is a wet method, the flood the bogs and wait for me to fall off the plant and rise to the top of the water I can float. Then they come and get me since I am floating on the water. The second is to scoop me right off the plant and send me to the warehouse for cleaning . Not much has to be done to me then. I can be strung and put on a tree at Christmas for all to enjoy.

    But if you want juice or sauce then I go to the plant and I can be made into many different foods. Most people like me with turkey or chicken as a side dish. Some like to make me into bread. But what ever way you like me I am good to eat.

    Have you guessed what I am? I am a cranberry plant .

  17. Violence in Violetville

    Dear friends,

    It is with great regret and profound dismay that I feel I must inform you of an apparent parting of the ways between Miss Violet and her pot mate Miss Violet-White.

    I am at a loss to understand why two African Violets, who have lived in peace and harmony for three years, who were born of and live on the same roots, have now been rent asunder. Indeed, they have turned their backs one upon the other, refusing to abut or communicate. Any appendage that has touched the other’s has been banished and left to perish, thus increasing the growing aloofness between the two.

    In their glory days they combined to make a sum more magnificent than it its parts, reaching 18 inches wide and 13 inches high, their leaves pressing against the other’s to strive for additional height and glory. Their relationship flowered and blooms of awe-inspiring beauty covered the colossus from March through October. Now, in their ruinous conflict, they are reduced to the mundane, the ordinary, the humble.

    I do not yet fear for their lives, as each appears dark green and healthy. It is their emotional health for which I agonize. No good can come of this. I see no way the two will reunite and return to their former symbiotic relationship. Can two former co-stars find health and happiness living apart in the same pot? I can only hope this is some form of African Violet PMS.

    Two years later:
    Dear Friends,

    Was there more I could have done? Could I somehow have averted this tragedy? I pace the hospital corridors, chastising myself. I should have seen it coming.

    I knew they weren’t themselves lately. I saw the depression, the drooping demeanor. Where once they thrived, now there was gloom. I gave them anti-depressants—the good stuff that Dr. Schultz recommends. I insisted on name brand, not the generic drugs. Nothing but the best.

    Then came today. In one ghastly moment, Miss Violet cast herself over the edge in a plunge to the unyielding Formica below. Oh, the inhumanity! An ill-advised yearning to be free has left her rootless and ungrounded. Her symbiotic sister, Miss Violet White, was too weakened to follow and collapsed in the nest where they have resided for five years.

    Immediately I went into triage mode. Miss Violet White was languishing, but Miss Violet was upside down on that brutal Formica plain. I gathered her tenderly, fitted her with neck and back braces, abraded her wounds, performed botanical CPR.

    Then I turned my attention to the pitiful sight of Miss Violet White. How much weight has she lost? She is emaciated.

    Where did I go wrong? Is this the normal life span of these delicate creatures? Is my care plan lacking? Long periods of dehydration, followed by inundation It works for all the rest of the plants in this house. Why not the African Violets? Maybe the stress of stardom became too much for them to bear. Should theirs names really be Paris and Lindsay?

    As I write this and pace the corridors, the two fight for their lives in ICU. They are, I am sad to say, forever separated. Maybe I did not understand the depths of the war they waged against each other last winter. Maybe it wasn’t détente after all when, during what I thought was a mediated peace treaty (the careful propping up with folded paper towels), the two seemed to set aside their differences and consented to bloom. To be sure, their efforts were insipid, nothing at all like their glory days. Only one thing is certain: life in Violetville has changed forever.

    Please keep them in your thoughts during this difficult time.

    To the one and only truly, duly and fully Gully,

    I am overcome with sadness at the great dilemma you have before you. The two Violets appear to be in more tragic circumstances than our own wretched dears: John and Martha.

    Your ever loving,
    Shaddy

  18. I came back to see this. One of the things I like about your writing, Gullie, is that you have fun with formats. That’s something we often forget to play with. And you don’t! And you included a sympathy note from Shaddy! Or did she sneak that in? She stopped by a while back, and it was good to hear from her. Meanwhile, kudos for your creativity and all your ongoing writing endeavors. Whoop! Whoop!

  19. That note from Shaddy was an e-mail response.

    A few years ago, a friend recommended Jerome Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat–and don’t forget about the dog. After reading it, I sent him a thank you letter mimicking Jerome’s style. Jerome was pretty darn funny and I think my response was pretty darn good. If you want to read it, tell me where to post it and I will do so.

  20. Maybe I’ll make the next challenge a “thank you note” challenge. Hmmmm….

    Is that a good book? I’m desperate!

  21. Well, for a book that’s a century old, it is. Pretty funny, and I had a blast mimicking he style. Have you read The Book Thief yet?

  22. Here’s a good read: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
    And, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating
    And, The Lost City of Z
    And, Sarah’s Key (I think it’s Sarah Maybe it’s Rebecca. No, Sarah.)

  23. Hi, guys– between computer problems and busy-ness, my life has been hijacked for the last couple of weeks. Just read Gullible’s comments about “Three Men…” Great book in itself, but if you want a fun sci-fi read lovingly based on it, try Connie Willis’ “To Say Nothing of the Dog”.

  24. Bob, thank for the correction. It was “to say nothing about the dog.”

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