I was (plant) blind, but now I see

by zoe | 04.03.2014 | art , trees , plant , photography , blind , peter von felbert | 0 comments | Rating: 2 votes

Peter van Felbert

Peter van Felbert

Peter van Felbert

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Doctor, doctor, I think that I might be suffering from plant blindness. Don’t worry, I’ve got just the tree-tment for you

When I was 14, we went on a family holiday to Scotland. During a cycle ride, my mother got somewhat frustrated with the fact that I kept cycling ahead of the rest of the family, so she asked “why don’t you just slow down and enjoy the view?” My answer was: “I prefer to see it as a green blur.” (The next time my family saw me I was a red blur on the road, after braking my rented bike rather too sharply, going over the handlebars and skidding violently along a decent stretch of tarmac).

But it turns out that most people, and particularly those who live in urban areas, see plants as a “green blur”, a backdrop to our life. How many times have you stopped to consider the grass on a football pitch or the trees lining your route to work? This is what is coined by James Wandersee and Elisabeth Schussler as ‘plant blindness’ – the inability to see the importance or aesthetics of plants in the biosphere, and the ranking of plants as being less important than animals.

So it’s lucky that there are people like Peter von Felbert in the world. Despite living in an urban area (Munich), he has time to stop and take photographs of the trees around him in the changing seasons, and to share these photos with us. The most striking element about these photographs is the fact that they are all set against a white background, which means that not even a dramatic skyline can detract our attention from the temporal beauty of the trees.

The Forestry Stewardship Council would approve; their Celebritrees campaign grew from the idea that we can all meet and learn more about the trees in our world. Perhaps check out their page as a step to overcome your own plant blindness.

You can also help to prevent plant blindness in others; one of the findings of a national study in the US was that the guidance of a knowledgeable and friendly adult or ‘plant mentor’ in childhood is a good predictor of later attention to, interest in, and scientific understanding of plants. If you want to fulfil that role for a young person, you can start by buying them a book from a list of winners of the Giverny Award, which is given annually to the best children’s science picture book, with preference given to books that teach plant science.

Written by zoe

I think that I shall never see A poem lovely as a tree - Joyce Kilmer (1913)

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