Lessons from Plants

Lessons from Plants is one of the best books I’ve read in 2021. It’s a book that makes me feel like a better person just from spending time with it. This feeling comes from the author, Dr. Beronda L. Montgomery, who is a skilled storyteller with a knack for clearly conveying key lessons that we can learn from the plants around us. (PS- I know we aren’t supposed to judge books by covers…but consider this book judged! There is something about the size, weight, shape and design of the cover with its mix of glossy and matte ink that immediately pulls you in and compels you to engage.)

The book makes me think about the personal journey I’ve been on the last 15 years or so. My work on myself and digging into equity, diversity and antiracism has been paralleled by my learning and caring about plants. As a trained biologist I’ve “understood” plants on a certain level, but I’d admit that it’s been more of a clinical or sterile understanding. Putting plants in the center and positioning them as teachers is a very new way of thinking and it immediately felt right. My wife has immersed herself in plants over the last decade- we have multiple plants in our home and I have even welcomed some into my personal home office. The presence of these organisms changes a space- for the better. I really appreciate how Dr. Montgomery discusses the hope that plants can bring. (Especially in a time like we’ve been living in during the pandemic.)

I had recently tweeted that Lessons from Plants and Braiding Sweetgrass could be best of friends. While I was trying to be “cute” I was also trying to make a legitimate point. These two books make great companions and work together to help us all develop a deeper appreciation and hopefully deeper relationship with plants while also putting us in touch with our humanity.

Below is a recording of a recent livestream of Dr. Montgomery talking about the book and her relationship and work with plants.

You may also be interested in a recent podcast Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness: Are Plants Little Geniuses? (Warning: Jonathan isn’t afraid to use lots of adult language so you may not want to listen to this with children or sensitive people around.)

Here are some recent publications by Dr. Montgomery:

Plants Were My Beacon of Hope During the Pandemic (Elle Magazine)

My Most Memorable Mentor? Plants (Nature)

Plants as Teachers and Witnesses (American Scientist)

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