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Hello Miss Strelitzia, how are you today?

`O Tiger-lily,' said Alice, addressing herself to one that was waving gracefully about in the wind, `I wish you could talk!'

(Taken from Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll)

Like Alice, I've always liked the idea of flowers being able to understand when we whisper to them. Many who are passionate about plants would admit to fully believing in the power of communicating with them on a daily basis. My own mother is one of them, having always experienced sensing emotions from plants, recalling memories such as magnolia flowers appearing when they were not in flowering season like a farewell present for her,  and carnations which would stay open for that few extra days when she talks to them more.

In fact this idea of emotions in plants originated in 1848, proposed by Dr. Gustav Theodor Fechner who was a German professor. The idea was that plants and human share the common properties of central nervous system and emotions, and thus human should be able to relate to plants by talking (if only plants have vocal abilities too!). This idea was followed up many years later by Luther Burbank who hypothesised telepathic capabilities for plants.

While there is no way to prove this empirically,  and indeed there has been limited success even in trying to show that talking to plants can improve their growth at all, we at least know that plants can communicate with each other. Past studies have shown that certain plants are capable of emitting wound signals to their neighbours when being attacked by insects - so if they are able to communicate each other surely the possibility of them understanding humans cannot be ruled out?

Sceptics may argue that stories of talking flowers could easily be interpreted as simple coincidences, or at least valid scientific explanations can be given as to why these cases may happen - e.g. carbon dioxide in human breath would aid the growth of plants, or the extra attention given to flowers through the process of talking to them would have made the owner more observant about their conditions.

Whether for scientific reasons or for the sake of holding onto wonderland beliefs of magical flowers, there is certainly no harm in talking to your flowers and trying to understand their language. So next time you see one of your flowers looking particularly sad or lonely,  have a little chat with her and see if she can feel the extra affection!

`We can talk,' said the Tiger-lily: `when there's anybody worth talking to.'

Prepared by Tracy, posted by Bob.




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