Viriditas 2016 – the next phase, 2nd post

Plant Blindness, Nature Deficit Disorder and a book review.

The photos throughout are of my Watercress and potato soup – recipe follows at the end of the post.

One of my most thought provoking YouTube videos was this one by Stefano Mancuso, Professor of Botany at the University in Florence, Italy. In it he shows very quickly 4 photos that are a combination of plants and animals and one with plants and humans. See

This was the basis of a research study conducted by Stefano Mancuso. In it 96% of people only see the animals in the first three photos and an astonishing 98% see only the human in that 4th photo. Yet plants that make up most of the photos. Stefano Mancuso calls this ‘Plant Blindness’.
Have a look, see for yourself and be honest. This is extraordinary!

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I am increasingly thinking about ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’ as we become a species increasingly living as city dwellers, generations that have never put their hands in the earth, those who have never walked in a wild place, eaten a wild plant, increasingly dis-eases that have environmental disconnection as a part of their condition.

When we become disconnected from that which nourishes and nurtures us – how do we feel?
When we walk in a wild place – how do we feel?
When we receive a gift of flowers – how do we feel ?
When we consume wild plants on a regular basis – how do we feel?
When we see the first emerging two leaves from a seed we have planted – how do we feel?

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I am writing a new book called ‘Notes from the Biophilic Garden’, this is about ways to reconnect, what that reconnection can mean, how it can change how we live in relationship with the natural world.

Many years ago I spent quite a bit of time with Hohepa Kereopa (Tuhoi Tohunga)

Hohepa said “What I mean is not that the tree(plant) can talk, or anything like that. But when I say the tree can tell me things, its like it communicates to me what its thinking is. It’s a living thing and all things that are living are able to tell things about themselves in their own way. You just have to know how to listen and understand. And the more you try to listen to what the trees tell you, the better you get at understanding them.” ( Hohepa Kereopa in Moon 2005*.)

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Following on from that I recently read the following amazing, engaging and totally stimulating book by Andreas Weber

The Biology of Wonder
Aliveness, Feeling and the Metamorphosis of Science

It is not often that I read a book and by the end know that how I see the world has radically changed.

In ‘The Biology of Wonder’, Andreas Weber, writer, University Lecturer and independent scholar from Berlin, does to Biology what Quantum Physics did to Newtonian Physics. In his section on ‘The Physics of Creation’, my previous understanding of how cells differentiate and a whole being emerges and functions is turned around into a less linear, responding to an external control (DNA) to one of that which emerges from within.
“They come into being solely of their own accord as different units of organic matter that mutually catalyze each other”.
Dr Weber skilfully and evocatively brings experiences of the natural world as a part of the cells themselves so that the reader is left without doubt that we are it and it is us.
I have for a long time looked to a different way to view immune function, to change the combative approach and Andreas Weber provides this in a Section called ‘Not One But All’.
The impact of the division between people and the natural world and how this alienation affects not only environmental degradation and species loss is so well described in this book so that we know that this division and what happens to the natural world also happens to us.
This is not a book about Herbal Medicine yet I understood why the healing relationship is an important one to protect in its entirety.
Expansive, illumination, emotionally engaging, confronting, challenging yet somehow satisfying.
This is writing at its best providing a new way to view conventional scientific thinking and teaching, the foundation for a different science, a ‘poetic ecology.

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Viriditas Workshops NZ
If you want to experience these different ways of seeing the world, come to one of the ‘Plant Immersion, Incubation and Inspiration’ weekends that I offer.
In 2016 ;

At Viriditas near Wanaka Dec 3rd and 4th, 2016
Near Tauranga October 8th and 9th, 2016
Contact me for details. isla@HerbCollege.com

Also TASHM – The Traditions, Art and Science of Herbal Medicine, a 6 month, one weekend a month course. ‘The Plant Immersion, Incubation and Inspiration’ is also included as the first weekend of this.

Favourite food of this week in winter
Watercress and Potato soup

Lightly saute 1 chopped onion or two shallots and 2-3 cloves of peeled and chopped garlic in a little olive oil and butter. Add 2 medium sliced and diced potatoes. Cook gently until soft. Add a litre of water, 1 tbsp of Miso, 1 dsp tomato paste (optional), 1 chilli whole (optional), 1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until all is soft then blend.

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Next post.
Back to Plants – well likely fungi.

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