Richard and Catherine had a thoroughly enjoyable and thought provoking day at Kew Gardens last Tuesday for the Treework Seminar 21 ‘Transformational Nature; Unlocking the secrets of natural form, plant intelligence and the ageing process’.

The speakers gave an insight into their research understanding more about the architecture of plants, their evolution to adapt and also research into the senses of plants. Their work challenges the perception of plants, including trees, that they are passive and insensitive and somewhat inferior to humans and animals. Their fascinating studies prove how intelligent plants are; how they are constantly assessing, responding and sensing their environment responding to sound, sight, movement and touch, and how they are incredibly adept at manipulating those around them to get what they want e.g. attracting pollinating insects, using other plants as a host, as well as using humans to aid seed dispersal. Plants have had limited legal protection through history and the work highlights the need for change.

During lunch, Tony Kirkham gave a brief tour around the Arboretum and encouraged us to visit again in the summer when their new exhibition ‘The Hive’ will be open exploring the vital role of bees and other pollinators in feeding the planet. For more details visit:

All in all it was a great day and really made the brain whirr, getting us to consider the level of importance and appreciation we really do have for the plants, and particularly as Arboriculturalists, the trees around us.

“We have to remember that what we observe is not nature in itself, but nature exposed to our method of thinking”

Werner Heisenberg