What started you on this journey with the plant music, was it when you caught the sound of the pounamu singing?
No. No, no, no. So, you’re asking me then, what got me started? And, interested in plants? I suppose that when I look back at the first talk that we had together, I mentioned in childhood, being very interested in forests, and trees, and things. And, that went right back, even when I was five or six years of age, and even right up into my teenage years, and of course, family situations change. And, you drift away from the beautiful, outdoor, rural forest areas, and into living in towns, and cities. So, I always had an awareness ah, and always a great feeling of being sort of at home, and being restful…. It’s a bit like when any of us can say…. Get away from our everyday work situation – whether it’s a day trip, a weekend trip, or whether it’s annual holidays, and we leave the environment where we spend most of our year. And we go, and we move within nature.
And, the tradition of course, within New Zealand is – for so many years, was the summer holiday. When everything closed down, and everyone packed up, and went away to the beach, or to the lake, or to the rivers, to camp out! And, this was a time when so many people had some incredible contact with nature. And, of course, being away for ten to fourteen days in that environment was always uplifting to people. And, I guess that psychologically you can say that was just being away from the pressures of the work environment, and everything else that goes on in the world. Just enjoying family time. Camping out, or caravanning, or staying in motels, or just cruising around in your mobile home. That was great! But, I always felt though, that in doing this – not that I did this very often myself. My family wasn’t into that.
My…. ah release…. Was just being able to walk in the park, etc. And, I’ve always enjoyed just ambling, or strolling. I’m not an intrepid tramper, and I’m not one of these people who put on their headphones, and run furiously through the forest, doing their training, their running, and things like that. I’ve always been fortunate to have lived in proximity to where there are trees, and there are parks. And, I often say to folk too, Marianne, that even if you live in the middle of the city. And, even if you just own a small town-house, or you’re living in an apartment building, there is always the opportunity to go, and be with plants, and trees. And, I cite cities like Wellington, Christchurch, and Auckland, in New Zealand, and I know other cities – I’ve lived in other parts of the world. There’s always parks, and spaces where people can go, and hang out, and just walk, or sit quietly, and feed the ducks in the duck pond.
This has always been something which I think has been so beneficial to people. To be able to just walk within nature, like that. So, I guess for myself, I’ve always had the opportunities, and fortunately in the years that I’ve been married, and we moved around quite a bit, we always had…. We were always in proximity ofbeaches, rivers, and forests. They were just an easy, short drive away. Or sometimes, just a walk down the end of the road, and into a park. So, these places are very, very important…. And, even to plants within your own environment, and I say to folk – if you live in the middle of the city, and you live in a high-rise apartment, you can still have your plants. You can have your houseplants. As I see a houseplant over your shoulder, over there Marianne, behind you.
Two cyclamens, I have had them for about three years, and I love them.
That’s right, so we always have these. Not only do they add colour but there are a lot of plants, of course, that are beneficial within the closed living space, which help to filter the air. Which is through photosynthesis, which is very important. And, even those as I say, living in high rise apartments, you can have a little – few pots out on your balcony, which often people do. And, in the summer, they’ll grow a few tomatoes. They’ll also grow herbs, and…. Culinary herbs for the kitchen.
So, you can always have these contacts, even though we can’t get out, and walk in it, we can always have the contacts. And, it’s even therapeutic to watch a YouTube clip of just walking in nature, in the forest. It allows you to escape, and go back into places you may have enjoyed, either when you were a child, or in recent times when you were on holiday.
So, bit of a ramble here, but I guess that um, we can always find a place to go to, and even if it’s a bus ride, or a car ride, or on our bicycle if we’re living in an urban area. There’s always a place we can go to, and walk around, and open spaces are as good as a forest. Often we come across little parks in an urban area, that haven’t been greatly planted out with trees. There may be a few trees there. But, often it’s just an open space of grass, which they keep mowed, and a playground there for children to play in. So, these places are there, and I think we’ve got to grab that opportunity, whenever we can.
I remember, years, and years, and years ago…. And, these are things which come to mind – when I was a younger person, working in Queen Street in Auckland, in a shop there, as a shop assistant. And, one day, walking down the footpath in busy Queen Street, and I stopped on the side of the road there. And, I was gazing around the buildings, and I looked down at my feet. And, there growing out of a crack in the curbing was a plant, which I took in those days to perhaps, to be a weed. I didn’t know what sort of plant it was. And, I looked at this little plant, and thought – oh my gosh! This is how nature prevails. Even in the busy, busiest places, where there’s lots of people. Lot’s of traffic. Little plants will grow. Little plants are, and they’re always there. And, so I thought well that’s interesting, and that little plant is just as important as a big tree. Because, little plants like that also actually go through the process of photosynthesis.
And, start bringing in the sunlight, and synthesizing this, and taking the carbons out of the air. And, in their own little way – you know, half a dozen, or ten leaves, putting oxygen back for us to breathe. So, these are things to know. Do you even…. If we are walking sort of down a street somewhere, and we come across a little bank – or even a stone wall, and we see moss growing there! Gosh, so you know, we’re surrounded constantly by green, nature. You know what I mean? So, it’s always there. So [inaudible] little ramble.
Yes, and that’s a valid comment about the plant growing in cracks. And, I’ve often seen like little – usually it’s dandelion flowers, or something like that coming up through the cracks, and I always admire the tenacity of nature. And, how plants always find a way to survive, and thrive, in the most hostile environments.
That’s exactly right! Hostile, and also how um plants, and I particularly noticed down here, because we live on the edge of a small forest, which is on our land. Adjourns onto other forest. And, we have big gardens here, of course. And, which my wife Raewyn, tends. And, if we just leave things to go, as they should. It doesn’t take long before the trees from the forest area are dropped into the garden, which we are then maintaining and cultivating. And little seedlings like Rewa Rewa, and Manuka, are popping up all over. So it doesn’t take long for nature to prevail.
And, I remember when we first came to this land, over twenty years ago. There had been a slippage down the track, on the way to the river. And, it was a very bare area of clay, and things like this. Which went right down to the river. I thought, what on earth are we going to do with this? And, it was a lot of gorse growing there. I thought wow. This could be the time for an experiment. ‘Cause, I had read prior to coming to this land, that if you wanted to reforest in native trees, and you had gorse, to use the gorse to act as a nursery. And then, this will allow native trees, or whatever you plant in there, to come back. Particularly the natives, ‘cause, it’s their natural habitat.
And, so I just left the gorse there. I trimmed it on the track, but I just left it there to go, right down this cutting. And, there it grew tall, and beautiful yellow blossoms. And. now when I go back down there, after twenty years, I’ve got one or two bits of straggly gorse left! The native forest has come back in such a big way. Manuka, Kanuka, Rewa Rewa, young Rimu trees, and all of this. So, nature always prevails! It’s worth knowing that things like gorse, instead of hacking it down, if you have the room to allow that space to sit for a number of years, and you plant your natives out in there, they’ll grow. And, of course, gorse requires a lit of light. And, when the native plants grow…. They’re searching for the light anyhow. And, they come up. And, they’ve got a higher canopy, and of course, they deprive the gorse of it’s light, and it just dies back.
Wow! Yeah that’s…. Now, isn’t there a name for that sort of agriculture? Is that bio… Oh gosh, I just can’t think of the name off the tip of my tongue. When you let nature just do it’s thing
Well, yes it’s…. It is…. Yes, that’s a wonderful thing to do, but a lot of people sort of don’t allow for that. As far as they are concerned a native forest, or native trees may not be what they want. And they may take – which they have over years, and years, and years…. And plant Pinus Radiata. Which incidentally, Pinus Radiata, and this was a tree they discovered, in the early nineteen-thirties, in America. And, in America it comes from California, and is called the Monterey Pine. And the Pinus Radiata is of course slated in New Zealand, as being the tree that we just grow very quickly. And, then chop down and plant more, which we’ve seen happen all over the place.
But in America, where the Pinus Radiata, or Monterey Pine comes from, it is a highly revered tree by the local Indian people. And, has such a high standing in their myths and legends, and their everyday life. So, I often say to people, don’t underestimate [what] Pinus Radiata does. I mean, on our land here, we have a couple of wild pine trees. Which have been growing, probably for many, many years. And, they’re going to grow until they’re probably eighty, ninety, or a hundred years old! So these trees, which have been somehow or another sown, in the area of my land. I was not going to chop them out! Because they are trees. And, this is where we’ve got to revere trees. And, if we can work with existing trees such as Pine trees, and anything else – Wattle trees which have been planted as tree crops, and all those sort of things. We have a far, far better space to bring about a balance in nature. Anyhow, so that’s the way I look at it, and I’d just like to insert that about Pinus Radiata, or I now like to call it the Monterey Pine. And, it is a very, very special tree in its own way. And, I have actually recorded music which I’ll talk about later, from the Monterey Pine. And, it’s just a beautiful song.
Sweet! And for me personally, I always find pine trees to be incredibly uplifting. The fragrance that their needles put out, or that the tree itself puts out, I find always puts me in an uplifted space, and it clears my energy.
No. No, I think that’s quite right too, because, what the trees are doing – they’re putting out – well virtually the essence of the tree itself, and it’s like the perfume of the tree. And, this enters into our bodies through inhaling, and walking in it. And, these things trigger various parts of activity in our brain. Which allows us to feel more relaxed, and at ease. And, this can happen in any forest. Whether it’s a pine forest, or it’s a forest that’s full of Kauri, or Rimu, or just mixed native. It can happen anywhere. Anywhere, there’s light growing like that, we can walk amongst the trees.
I remember walking amongst the Redwood plantations in Rotorua, which were quite vast. And, they were put in place, ninety, to one hundred years ago, with the view of looking at a sustainable crop. But, they’re such magnificent trees, and now eighty to ninety years old! They’re never going to be taken down for firewood, or timber for building, or anything like that. They’re just a joy to walk amongst. Here was an introduced species, which was established so well, and is now providing so much for people who like to walk, run, or ride through the forest.
That’s a really valid point, ‘cause, I know whenever I get the opportunity I’ll go for a walk in the bush. Soon as I get out of the car, and I’m in amongst the trees, it’s just like poof! You know? You just feel a difference; you just feel – I feel immediately relaxed…. Immediately, as soon as I can smell, that beautiful forest odour. It just grounds me right away!
Yeah. It’s also the same too…. We’ve got something else we can compare that to. It’s when we go to the beach, and it’s active on the beach. And, the beaches you’ve got down there, around Hawkes Bay, and around the Napier area, are all shingle beaches. But, just walking on the beach, you’re in the natural ozone, which is also beneficial to you, so anywhere within nature, that we can take the time…. And, even walking along the boardwalks there, in the main beach in Napier, or round the other side, round the shore there. Just ambling along. At the top of the beach there, there’s only little plants growing. You know, little succulents and things like this, which have incredible flowers in the season. And, so there’s a lot of plant life around the beach. And, also – I mean, just off the shore there, which we can’t see, of course, is all the plant life under the water.
Which is all the sea weeds, and things of that nature. And, likewise in ponds, and estuaries. Ah, down not far from where we live, we have the big Tauranga harbor. Well renowned for sea lettuce, which washes up ashore, when storms come in. So there’s so much growing also, when we go to the beach, under the water. And likewise, even when we go to the rivers, streams. You’re walking around and you come to a little pool of water, which is not being disturbed too much by the water flow, and we look very closely, and we see all these little organisms – plant organisms, growing on the rocks. So, we’re surrounded by plants, and amazing thing Marianne, is that in recent times with ahh – neurobiology, which is the new science, which is studying the intelligence of plants. They have come up with a figure, which I find amazing. They say that ninety-nine percent of all life in the biosphere of the planet is plant life!
That’s ninety-nine percent so, there’s just one percent that we as humans, every other mammal, every other living creature, whether they fly, or whether they crawl underground, we just fit into one percent. So, we actually live on a plant planet. And, I think that’s why a plant planet is conducive, and always has been conducive to the other realms where the faery folk, and the elementals live. So, everything goes hand in hand. You know, within the biosphere I mean. It was just, you know, the complete sort of system we live in. And, of course now a days, we hear a lot about how the system is being damaged, and how it’s – we’re not caring for it as humans! But hopefully that’s all going to change as quickly as we can over the next few decades, and bring it back to a better balance.
Well, I don’t think we have much of an option now, do we? I think, we’re really at a major tipping point. But, I feel that the positive thing about this, is that so many people are awake now, and aware of things that are actually important to our continued survival. To the survival of all species actually. Well no! Humans may die out, but plants will live on, regardless.
That’s right, and also you know, for the survival of of all species, of course, everything on the planet relies on plants. And, not only do the plants provide us with the oxygen that we breathe, but they also filter the carbons out of the air. So it’s a two-way thing. We put out carbons which feed the plants, which is wonderful, we as animals, mammals, put out a lot of carbon. And, of course, that’s become a little excessive with the modern industrial age that we live in, but that’s something for another day.
So, we’re looking here at the fact that plants provide everything, within the biosphere of the planet, to sustain our lives. Not only is it because we are a carbon body, we are a carbon being. We rely on the oxygen for breathing. Ok. Now, the plants then supply us with all our food. Everything that we eat, has come from a plant source. Even though, there are those who will eat chickens, and fish, and meat. Which has, had been farmed. All these creatures that we consume, they have grown up and come into maturity, by eating plants, and ok. So have humans. So, it’s interesting that, we just live on a plant planet. That’s it, you know when we suddenly start to think about this, and realize it. It’s like a little light bulb flashes on, and you think oh my god! Of course you do! Why didn’t I think about that twenty or thirty years ago? So, so many things we just take for granted.
It’s a bit like, I’m referring to plant blindness. It’s a very interesting experiment that’s often done by Stephano – by Professor Stephano Mecurio. Who is a plant biologist at the University of Florence, in Italy.And, when he started to give a talk to people, ah on the rostrum there, he’ll have a big picture on the screen there behind him. And, it’ll be a picture of grass, like a meadow, with trees in the background. And, he’ll say to the people, well what do you see here. And, they’re looking hard for what they can see. And, they can’t see anything! Then, he’ll put up the next slide, which is the same picture, but this time he’s got a little herd, of five or six deer in the foreground. Now, what do you see? Oh we see the deer! Wow! And he puts on the first slide again, and says now look at this. Look at all those trees! Look at all the grasses! Living things, living beings, and you didn’t even see them. And, that’s what he calls, ‘Plant Blindness’. Where so many people just take trees and plants for granted. They‘re just in the background.
For some of us, thank goodness, they’re in the foreground of our life. But, for a lot of people, they’re just there. And, of course for some people, when they do see the tree, they look at upon it as being something – we can fell those trees, and cut them up for firewood. We can fell those trees, and build a house out of them. We can feel that tree, ‘cause, it’s blocking our view. We can fell that tree, because we want to plant an orchard. So, very little thought is actually given to that tree, and, to those trees. They’re just there. So this is what they term plant blindness. Taking things for granted, and if we do stop and think about it. It, it changes your whole perception when you suddenly realize this. And, I guess we’re all guilty of it.
I often say, as an example to folk. You head off to work in the morning, and you get out the front door, and you pat the dog on the head, and say hello. And, as you walk down the driveway, towards the front of your house, the pathway – the cat’s there, and you say hello to the cat. And, you’re walking past all the bushes in the garden, and it’s pretty down the side of the driveway. And, there’s a bird singing up there. You might glance up and notice it’s a thrush.
And, you’ve acknowledged the animals. You’ve acknowledged the seeing the cat, and dog, and you’ve acknowledged the bird. But, you have not – most people haven’t acknowledged the tree. The tree is just there! Once again, it’s in the background. So, that’s one aspect of plant blindness. So, I guess, because – I mean, I’m looking out my window here, and of course, we’re surrounded by trees, and paddocks. Well, grass, and gardens, and long distance views. All I can see is trees, and I’m quite at peace. Living in a place like this, and it’s just wonderful! There are those of course, who just don’t have that opportunity, but what I’m sharing with you today, will hopefully open up peoples to more opportunities for themselves, to actually not take trees, and plants for granted.
And, case in point. Where we do have indoor plants, we nurture them, we feed them, and water them – hopefully! And, we love and admire them, and we’ll talk to them too. And, it’s the same with intrepid gardeners, with vegetable gardeners, etc. When they’re out in the garden, planting seeds, or tending the broccoli, and things as they grow, they’ll talk to the plants. And so, actually is a jolly good idea. Because, plants can hear – we’ll go into that shortly. But plants can hear you, and they can respond. And, they respond with music of the plants.
It’s creating songs. That’s…. That’s their voice, so plant blindness is something that, if we are aware of that term, we can then apply it in our everyday life. And, hopefully people listening to our little chat, when they’ve finished and they have the opportunity to go outside, and the weather’s right – there’s not six foot of snow on the ground. To actually go to a tree, and just look at it, and put their hands out and touch the tree, and talk to it for goodness sake!