top of page

Here’s a video that was created some years ago. 😊

Mel enjoying a bed of Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale, a common weed and most useful plant
Plants and humans need sunshine, but only plants can use that sunshine to make their own food and convert the solar energy into useful forms for itself.

I was visiting the Chicago Botanic Garden a few years back when I purchased a t-shirt that said "All Life Depends on Plants". Of course it does! On the surface, I thought of how we as humans use plants for food, shelter, medicine, clothing etc. That's what we are always taught. It wasn't until the long drive home when my mind began to wander and think deeper about the phrase. The world would survive and go on without humans, but how would the world continue without plants? What are all of the organisms that rely on plants to grow, reproduce, or simply live. This is a serious issue, and one that is in need of urgent action. I hope that I am not the first to bring this to anyone's attention.

I was working as a Botany Lab Manager at that time. I was responsible for a display case located outside of the botany lab classroom. I used the t-shirt I bought as a prop, with the title of this display as "Ethnobotany". I began to fill the case with ways that life does depend on plants, and our relationship as humans with plants, as well as animals, insects, and soil. It was FULL. And there was still more information that could have been added. There was a lot of conversations around the topic. A Microbiologist began the discussion about how microbes don't depend on plants, and how they could survive without them. Its well known that plants grow better with increased microorganisms in the soil. It has been shown that the rhizosphere (area surrounding plant roots in the soil) have higher numbers of beneficial bacteria. I asked myself, what if there weren't any plant roots, where else would the microbial material gather or thrive? Some would think that a virus doesn't need a plant, but as viruses and diseases go, they need the virus (pathogen), the right environment, and a host. Still so many questions and so much to learn.

It's not as simple as saying all life depends on plants and not thinking any further about it. I have dedicated my life to growing plants. Part of the reason is because I am fascinated with the plant world, I enjoy learning more about plants and our relationship with them, but there is another reason. I know that all is right when I am surrounded by the essence of green beings, continue to be driven by the magic of the unseen, and believe in plant spirits. I studied horticulture because it is described as the "art and science of growing plants". Somewhere, the word "spirit" needs to be included. Meet any fairy, and you'll understand.

Updated: Mar 27, 2022

Patti observing Ginseng, Panax quinquefolius

I'm not really sure when it happened, or where, how old I was, or if maybe my connection to plants comes from a past life. I just know that I have always enjoyed being in the presence of green things. I grew up in a mid-century built neighborhood of red or yellow brick matching houses where the blueprints probably came from a Sears catalog of home designs. I remember the yard seemed so big, I would roll around in the lawn of "weeds". I would carefully select and eat the bright, banana shaped flowers of oxalis and collect dark, black seeds from tropical colored 4 O' Clocks that my mother planted along the fence. I was always barefoot and I would have to stop to remove spheres of thorns from the soles of my feet. I didn't mind, I just learned how to notice the plants that these pickers grew on and avoid them. We would swim in the ditches after a flood, run out to buy ice cream from the ice cream truck, and stay inside when the trucks drove down the streets to spray DDT for mosquitoes. I walked to school about a block, and would sit on the corner of my street after school waiting for my mom to come home from work. While walking or waiting I was always looking at the plants grew in the ditches or the trees that grew nearby. Plants are EVERYWHERE! Have you seen them? Do you notice them when you walk by? Noticing plants throughout my life is in my blood, just like the DDT that was sprayed in my neighborhood when I was a kid.

In autumn, we would go camping during hunting season. My step-dad was a bow hunter, My mom would go too, but never really hunted. My brother is 6 years older and he would also hunt. I have an older sister that was married by this time. I recall walking in the woods, the colors of the leaves, the smell of the soil, the cool weather on my skin. I wouldn't hunt, but would have to fill my time playing around the campsite. I would look for animal tracks, and wish for catching a glimpse of them in the trees or behind a rock. As a child a spent a lot of time alone with the outdoors. Not complaining. This is probably one of the reasons I love the woods and live in them now. I feel very comfortable alone in nature looking at the plants.

As an adult, I had an herb and vegetable garden that also included flowers. I would make things using nature as my inspiration. I thought that my relationship with plants was a basic human thing. I was long into my adulthood when I realized that this wasn't so. I heard somewhere, maybe from Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods that humans fall somewhere along this nature continuum, where on one end we are deeply connected, and on the other end, there is less of, if any, of a connection to nature. We each fall somewhere along this continuum. There must be a place somewhere on this continuum where nature isn't valued, but plants are liked. It was after thinking about this I began to realize how some humans thought of plants for their gardens as collectables. Where some would add plants to their garden (liked) while justifying the act of digging up and removing them from their natural habitat (not valued). An example could be wild orchids. Maybe where plants were used for food or medicine (liked) but harvested to the point of or close to extinction (not valued). An example of this could be white sage or ginseng.

What is right. What is wrong. I don't know. I do have concerns over nature and plant populations. This is why I am committed to doing what I do. I like growing plants. I am dedicated to the cultivation and preservation of plants, and this includes at risk plants. United Plant Savers is an organization that I wholeheartedly support and admire for the work they have done in plant preservation and protection. Click here for a link, or on their logo at the bottom of this website. Let's have a conversation about foraging some time. How many people does it take to only forage 10% of a plant part until it is gone? I'm not against foraging, it's just a question to ponder during these times. It's a really popular and trending thing to do.

bottom of page