Thursday, July 2, 2009

Winner Announced as Voice of Wisley

After two months of waiting, the Royal Horticultural Society finally announced the winner of May's Voice of Wisley contest. And, in my book, the best part of the announcement is that the winner is none other than Sarah Darwin, Charles Darwin's great-great granddaughter. What a lovely historical continuation involving one botanist to another!

Over 40 individuals came to Wisley to audition for the contest in late spring and the contenders were wittled down to about ten or so based upon their reading of favorite literature--from Shakespeare to poetry to the great books. The tomato plants listened to these recordings through headphones secured to their pots and measurements of their growth were taken over the two months. Results showed that Ms. Darwin's tomato plants grew 1.6 cm higher than the control plants in the study. Her choice of literature? Selections from The Origins of Species, of course.

Perhaps one of the most revealing aspects of the study is that the plants reponded better to women's voices than men's. No explanation is given for this but some like Colin Crosbie, Garden Superintendent and curator for the "Voice of Wisley" experiment, suspect that it may have something to do with tone and pitch. Regardless, it makes me want to draw all my plants around me and read them stories nightly!

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