Talking to plants


About a fortnight ago I prepared the narrow strip of soil running along the front wall of our back patio. I loosened the soil, removed weeds and biggish stones and began relocating our darling clematis and lavender from their pot homes of almost 10 years. Yes, I was a bit nervous as, one, I didn’t want to upset their roots and, two, wasn’t sure how they’d react to their new home, which hopefully soon be a cheerful one, densely packed with a variety of country flowers, whose tiny seeds, by the way, were shaken on to the ground and raked in on the same day of the transplantation. So pleased that clematis and lavender have adapted well to their new surroundings…no signs of any traumatization yet… and some of the little seeds having ended their germinating process are already starting to grow! And whilst I check on or water them – oh, I am sooo patiently waiting for clematis’s first flower(s) – I caught myself whispering, hey my little beauties… guaponas mias, a ver…despaaacio, yes take your time now…schööön wachsen, ihr süßen little Blümchen 

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I came across John Agard’s Two plants, after reading his poem Talking to plants during a lecture at Goldsmith University a few years ago. Since then I’m often reminded of both poems when tending to my ‘babies’.



Talking to Plants


Always talk to your plants.

Sit back and watch them flourish.

Good advice. Of course we presume

that all plants speak English.


Speak slowly, watch them bloom

If necessary shout each syllable.

Their little ears are ready vessels

for a shower of the Queen’s vowels.


Never mind if it’s a China rose

or an African violet.

Better yet, recite a bit of English lit.

See abundance spring at your fingertip.


So I spoke like an Oxford don

to my wilting rhododendron.

It wilted more. As for my drooping shrub,

my words only seem to draw more lugs.


O plants, what is it that makes you grow?

I watch my immigrant neighbour’s patio

with a sense of distant envy.

Tell me, plants, must I address you in Punjabi?


First poem in John Agard’s Alternative Anthem: Selected Poems (Bloodaxe, 2009)



11 thoughts on “Talking to plants

  1. Cynthia Reyes

    An interesting post. Thank you for it, and for the poem.
    My mother always talked to plants. I never imagined that one day I would do the same. Perhaps my daughter doesn’t imagine it either.


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