Words fascinate me. I love discovering the origin of words, how they change over time, how language is constantly evolving, hearing my goddaughters use words which to me, mean the total opposite! What really fries my brain is that there are over 7000 known languages on our earth. Just imagine the size of vocabulary invented by the human brain, the capability of our grey matter to devise, construct and turn into speech these millions of words! Sobering to say the least. A smattering of French and Swahili is in my repertoire and when I speak those words I know I feel different, that another part of me is expressed, that I am enriched by an additional culture which I respect. What, you ask, has this got to do with garden, plants and trees?

Think of words often used to describe being in a garden – beautiful, pretty, magical, dreamy, relaxing, splendid, swirling and colorful – just a selection from our social media pages. Express a deeper emotion and one might reflect on the energy, contentment, resonance, calm, intensity, vibration, even the Danish word hygge or the Japanese kogarashi. I for one know that adding to my vocab would help but I wonder, do we even have the words for how nature makes us feel? This for me is where gardens can transition us into a place which transcends language.

If it’s possible to grasp that nature has her own language to add to the 7000+ human languages, we might a consider the benefit of learning that language. The communication taking place when you look at the sky, stand in a meadow flowers swaying in the breeze, feel the warmth and cool of that breeze, knowing that knowledge is in those experiences. What do we miss out in modern life through not being conversant in nature’s language, or to only have the tourist’s smattering of phrases?

I recently discovered the work of David Abram who eloquently describes this concept, and who ponders how human language can “frustrate the instinctive rapport between our animal senses and the animate world around us”.  

Next time I take a walk in the woods, a stroll round the garden, or glance at a house plant, I’m going to intentionally attune to this language, one with no words, yet one that speaks to me. Come and join me in learning a new language!

Maybe we’ll find ourselves caring more deeply, advocating for and taking action to protect the “more-than-human” world around us.

Caroline Tait

Caroline Tait

Vice President, Horticulture & Collections

Caroline began her career propagating perennials at Coton Manor Gardens in Northamptonshire, England, voted the UK’s favorite garden in 2019. Designing gardens for shows and clients took her all over the the UK, until 2018 when she was selected from a global pool of candidates for the year-long residential Fellows Leadership Program at Longwood Gardens in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Get in Touch

Margs Cook Communication Specialist Email

What can we help you find?

Return to site

TOMORROW: 20220524 00:00 | 1653350400

Debug info for popularity tracking: Disable within popularity-tracking.php file once ready.

Time: 1653264000 / Saved: 1653004800

Views (7 day(s) ago): 1

Views (6 day(s) ago): 2

Views (5 day(s) ago): 2

Views (4 day(s) ago): 1

Views (3 day(s) ago): 1

Views (2 day(s) ago): 1

Views (1 day(s) ago): 1

Views (Today): 1