…since I wrote anything here, or even remotely thought about it. As I am sure you’re acutely aware, Things have a habit of Happening; sometimes unexpected, sometimes anticipated, they happen all the same. Sometimes these Things take up more time than you thought they might.
Regardless, I intend to begin this year in the same manner I have begun all of my previous years: with grand plans to do much more than last year but with roughly the same amount of free time. I’m absolutely certain that this time around I’ll take it all in my stride. Blogging is, of course, one of the things which I intend to attend to more devoutly. With that in mind, let’s proceed.
A Tour of the Grounds
Where else to begin but with some plants. And not just any old plants, but Corydalis.
In the garden we’re mostly looking at a few tufts of evergreen: Corydalis flexuosa – and it’s hybrids, cultivars and cousins – all tend to retain a bit of greenery over the winter, particularly during mild weather. C. anthriscifolia and temulifolia are less closely related and their marvellously decorated evergreen foliage is a welcome sight at any time of year.
Other common sights are the wee little volunteers that I’m so fond of: C. heterocarpa, ophiocarpa and linstowiana being the main plants in question.
In the greenhouse, the first signs of growth have emerged, with C. sewerzovii being the earliest tuberous Corydalis to be spotted this year.
A Tour of the Manor
This was my Christmas present:
According to the growing instructions it can thrive in very low light levels and doesn’t need much in the way of humidity either.
A Tour of my Mind
There is much to see here; wild and mysterious things, copiously mulched with heavy layers of William Blake and Goethe. Will these bizarre and unwieldy specimens survive transplantation from the cosseted greenhouse of my mind to the harsh reality of the outside world? Who can tell. With that in mind…
Here are two new words:
Technically this isn’t a new word, but it hasn’t been in common usage for a couple of hundred years. Here I’m using it in specific reference to plants. Plants are very rarely individual entities in the way that we or most animals are. Describing them and the way they function as individualistic isn’t (as far as I can see) particularly accurate or helpful. This is a pretty extensive topic so I’ll write about it fully at a later date. My basic argument is that plants should be described as “dividuals” because they are nearly always divisible and their entire functioning is dictated by this fact. If the study of plants started with this as a basic concept we’d have a better understanding of them, rather than the zoocentric plants-are-lesser-animals approach that at times seems dominate public knowledge in this area.
2. Phytæsthetic – or – phytaesthetic
This one is a little more esoteric but might still come in handy. It’s derived from phyto- (itself derived from the Ancient Greek for “plant”) and aesthetic (from the Ancient Greek for “perception”): plant-perception. You may or may not be aware of current research around plants and their ability to perceive their environment. The approaches to this research range from purely mechanistic cause and response explanations, to describing plants as intelligent or, in some cases, as conscious beings. My problem with much of this is that we don’t have the words to describe what is being discovered. Describing plants as mere automatons is increasingly inaccurate and doesn’t do justice to the fact that plants are living things which have to navigate and exist in complex environments. Equally, allocating intelligence to plants isn’t accurate either. It involves defining intelligence in the first place – there are various schools of thought in this area but little consensus. Once a definition has been decided on, the plant kingdom has to be shoehorned into an anthropomorphic concept which doesn’t really aide our understanding of them. Instead of all of this, why not simply describe plants as phytaesthetic, ie. plants perceive their environment (and act accordingly) in ways which are peculiar to them. Phytaestheticism recognises plants as capable of sophisticated interaction with their environment without viewing them through the prism of our own experience of the world. Incidentally, if you have a better word to describe this, please do say. I’ve experimented with various different ideas and this is the best I’ve come up with.
That completes our tour of garden, manor and mind. I think I’d better leave it there for now. Grappling with the fundamentals of our approach to plants seems a fitting way to finish. Happy New Year and thanks for popping by!