The death of a pet for some brings on feelings of sadness in at similar levels as that when one loses a human friend or partner but this report from the Royal Horticultural Society that many people feel bereaved when a plant dies might suprise many. The transference of feeling to other living things such as pets that react to human interaction seems more understandable than with a plant, or tree. Feeling a little sad when a plant dies is one thing but bereaved?
If you are struggling to cope with the havoc wreaked in your flowerbeds by recent extreme wind and rain, you're not alone. The Royal Horticultural Society has diagnosed a new national affliction: plant bereavement.
About half of all callers to their plant advisory service are dealing with the trauma induced by wilted, leafless or damaged plants. Luckily, the team from the RHS are able to deal not only with horticultural questions, but also emotional ones. Many gardeners, they say, feel personally connected to their plants, particularly when they have been nurtured for many years, or given by someone special.
"Gardeners often go through the same stages of grief - shock, denial, anger, depression and acceptance," says Leigh Hunt, the principal horticultural adviser at the RHS's Wisley garden. These feelings are often laced with guilt, for having failed to treat the beloved plants correctly. Moreover, problems in British flowerbeds have increased in recent years because of erratic weather conditions (the hottest summer on record in 2006 and the wettest in 2007) as well as new pests (lily beetle, horse chestnut leaf-mining moth and rosemary beetle - the latter is thought to be an indicator of climate change).