Humankind’s physical and psychological connection to plants is not something that is easily expressed. For as long as people have been living indoors, people have been beautifying their interior spaces with foliage. Be it the vine-like stems of a Hedera helix sitting atop a filing cabinet in your office or the noble leaves of a Ficus benjamina welcoming you into a hotel lobby, plants are everywhere.
Why is it that people are continually inspired by all things green and growing? For centuries, poets and songwriters have put pen to paper and tried to articulate the thoughts and feelings evoked by man’s relationship with plants and flowers. Plants of all sizes and shapes are often used for metaphors and as symbols of growth. I decided to spend some time reading and listening to some plant-themed poems and songs. I’ve posted a few video clips of my favorites below for your enjoyment.
“Whosever Plants A Tree” by Felix Dennis (Full Text)
The first and last stanzas of this lovely poem by English poet and millionaire, Felix Dennis, “Whosever plants a tree/Winks at immortality” brilliantly captures the continual cycle of life. Mr. Dennis, who passed away in 2014 at the age of 67, practiced what he published during his lifetime by founding a charity that has planted over a million trees since 2003.
The Secret Life of Plants – Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder didn’t just write a song about plants, he recorded an entire album. 1979’s Stevie Wonder’s Journey Through “The Secret Life of Plants” was recorded for a documentary of the same name that featured time-lapse footage of plants growing. As the first full studio release since Wonder’s highly successful album, Songs in the Key of Life, the collection of plant-themed tracks perplexed many music critics at the time of its release. In retrospective, Wonder should be commended for his beautiful and brave musical exploration of our green friends.
The Giving Tree – Shel Silverstein
If you’re like me, you were read many Shel Silverstein poems growing up (Bear in There and Where the Sidewalk Ends first comes to mind). The Giving Tree, was one of one the Chicago-raised poet’s most successful works and is one of the best-selling children books of all time. I now enjoy reading this enduring tale of a relationship between a tree and a boy to my two-year-old daughter. Although melancholy in tone, the poem accompanied by iconic minimalist sketches, masterfully uses the symbol of a tree to teach a lesson that strikes a chord with both children and parents.
The Garden Song – John Denver
This ode to the glory of gardening by songwriter David Mallet was made famous when the late John Denver recorded it in 1979 (a big year for plant-themed music apparently!). The video below from Denver’s appearance on The Muppet Show features some stellar background vocals from a few musically inclined flowers. During his life, Denver was almost as well known for his work as an environmentalist as he was for his music.
Let It Grow – Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax
The most recent work on this list, “Let It Grow” is one of the best songs from the 2012 animated film adaption of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax. While my affinity for the catchy sing-a-long may be also due to my 2-year-old, “Let It Grow” hits right at the heart of the 1971 children’s book which has long been heralded as a classic satire.
Little Plant Song With Ernie – Sesame Street
If you want to brush up on your indoor plant watering skills or introduce your little one to the joy plant care, this little ditty from Sesame Street is as cute as it is catchy. You’re never too old to visit Sesame Street! And never too young start learning about plants!
Can you think of any other good plant-related poems and songs? Share them below!