Episode 161: Plants and People

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode where I’m speaking to Marion Whitehead from the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden in New South Wales, Australia, part of the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney. I talk with Marion about one of her areas of speciality; the intersection of plants and human feelings, particularly in the context of 3 books as recommended by Marion; Enid Blyton’s ‘The Magic Faraway Tree’, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s ‘The Secret Garden’ and ‘The Overstory’ by Richard Powers.

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What we cover

Enid Blyton’s ‘The Magic Faraway Tree’: the tree is the central character, but actually seems pretty inanimate. How does the magic faraway tree provoke emotion?

Is there a suggestion in Blyton’s book that wild plants are more emotionally provocative than cultivated plants?

‘The Secret Garden’: the garden heals but it seems to be healing physically as much as emotionally, is this the case?

Is the garden responding to individuals’ needs? 

Do people instinctively find or seek out what they need, emotionally, in a garden?

Do we have the language to describe our relationship to plants? 

Richard Powers’ ‘The Overstory’: are plants losing their power to connect with us emotionally, or vice versa, given our detachment from nature? 

About Marion Whitehead

Marion is Senior Horticulturalist at the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden. She has an extensive background in cool climate plant species, with a specific interest in ephemeral and heathland plants. Marion has many horticultural topics of interest from Australian plant history, to managing plant nurseries, to the emotional connection between human and fellow flowers.



The Overstory by Richard Powers 

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett 

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