How Growing Plants Sparks Joy

Illustration by Grace Park

Celine Pun

Contributing Writer

Future generations’ right of imagination and outdoor experience may not be a right anymore especially with greenspace disparities changing with time. Maintaining our urban gardens offers the opportunity for future generations to experience the values we are gifted from plants. Our gardens of purple sage, scallions, and dragon fruit cacti under our stairs remind us to venture outdoors and give sunkissed love to our souls. Chlorophyll and carotenoids calm a sea of cement and city smog. We create Anthropocene art of reciprocal thriving. 

1. Plants are good investments.

Our clean air, food, and clothes stem from their generosity. There is so much permaculture potential in our windowsill and balcony gardens. Our bellies satisfied and stress melted, we know where our ingredients come from, no unwanted additives. Richer in flavor than store-bought, we know our efforts and love coaxed our plants to thrive.

Plump fruits and flowers are eye candy as well. Green is the new black. A flex on the ‘gram to friends and family for our supreme adulting/plant-parenting skills. We are sharing that we have the capacity to care and love others. Long afternoons basking in presences that are not our own. Afterall, social distancing does not affect plants. 

2. Plants are not spoiled brats.

Sessile and soft-spoken, plants are solely concerned with surviving to reproduce. Pure of materialistic yearns and immoral intentions, they are like tantrum-less children. Their demands for nurture are more explicit than any passive-aggressive partner, but only if we listen well to understand their needs: water every other day, partial sunlight, monthly fragrant compost. 

3. Plants are symbolic of their environment. 

Plants are fickle beasts — their sensitivity to the environment we share with them are amplified. They only grow if the conditions are favorable. In other words, if something is wrong, plants will whisper their woes to us. Perhaps, pH or nitrate levels are too low or too high, or the soil is polluted, radioactive, or unhealthy. Are the weather conditions not agreeable? Perhaps, we plant parents may become a vector of problems; when we are too stressed or sick to care for our plants, the health of our plants will reciprocate our wilting souls like in The Good Place where Tahani gifts a plant to Eleanor that is symbolic of their friendship.  

4. Plants are teachers.

The lessons range from a few minutes to numerous years. We gather in our gardens, pens and ears ready. Come with no expectations. Pay attention. Play around. We learn how hard water creates scale in water rooting if we leave these infants alone in the other room too long. We learn the scars on their leaves are ghosts of mouthfuls from those fat caterpillars. They teach us applicable skills — think about it. Those golden interview phrases grow as vines in our mind when we develop a symbiotic relationship with our plants: detail-orientated, passionate, responsible. For example, learning how to take care for them reminds us to take care of ourselves and let us know we are capable of taking care of others. 

Let’s show gratitude for existing on this planet, even if this is through helping a desk succulent thrive. Humans are selfish creatures — so let’s also use that: let’s give back to the flora world because we want to continue doing what we love to do and they help us do that. Besides, when aliens visit our planet, reeking landfills, plastic islands, and sepia skies will be extremely embarrassing — like why did we not appreciate our home to the point of destruction? 


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