On Houseplants

averychipman

On houseplants—

A brief selection of thoughts and poetry produced and collected by author Avery Chipman

— dedicated to those who find joy in surrounding themselves with green.


materials + knowledge

4

feelings

6

quotations

8

millennials

10

poetry

12

leafy

14

misconceptions

16


materials &

knowledge—

To create a beautiful green space within your home, there

are a few tools required. Having different sizes and shapes

of planters, types of soil, water, and patience will allow

you to plant many types of seeds and watch them grow.

It is important to be aware of the amount of sunlight and water

different species of plants require. Some plants need a lot of care

and attention while others are much more hardy and require

very little maintenance. Some plants will need to be moved

to larger pots over time as they grow, or others will produce

duplicates that will need to be transplanted to their own pots.

If there are too many roots in one pot, the plants will become

overcrowded and die because of a lack of available nutrients.

The most important thing is to be aware of your plants and

notice when they are not looking their best so that you can

respond by either adjusting their sunlight or watering schedule,

or move them to a larger pot so that they will be able to flourish.

4


how are you f eeling?

Studies have shown that the by being around

houseplants, your blood pressure will likely lower, your

anxiety will lessen, and your overall wellbeing will

improve. There are many reported health benefits to

keeping houseplants, but many people find that they also

experience emotional benefits from their plants. Many

people feel generally calmer, more relaxed, and happier

when they find themselves in the presence of plants.

Specific houseplants that are mentioned in studies for

contributing to health benefits include: golden pothos,

arrowhead vine, philodendron, snake plants and peace

lillies. All plants will help purify the air in their space

and can be a positive distraction or psychologically

beneficial responsibility to allow the users of a space

to feel that they are doing something good and helpful

by caring for and being mindful of a living thing.

My houseplants, for me

personally, bring a sense

of calm, tranquility, and

serenity that I don’t find

in other environments and

spaces. Their waxy, twisted

leaves and stems stand

and sway with the sun and

there is a particular zen

in feeling their happiness.

When I water them, I feel

pleased and important to

be tending to them and

making them happy. Their

lives are simple and gentle

and it brings me joy to take

part in their wellbeing.

6


My relationship to plants becomes closer

and closer. They make me quiet; I like to

be in their company.

Peter Zumthor

Plants exist in the weather and light rays

that surround them—waving in the wind,

shimmering in the sunlight. I am always

puzzling over how to draw such things.

Hayao Miyazaki

8


millennials—

There has, in the last

few years particularly,

been a resurgence

of people keeping

houseplants. The

numbers say that it is a

growing trend among

millennials. Why is it

that America’s youngest

adult generation is

interested in keeping

houseplants, when the

last resurgence was in

the 70s amid Watergate

and the Vietnam War?

Some believe keeping

plants becomes popular

again while we, as a

culture, hunker down

and need to feel

comfort. Are millennials

“hunkering down”

from the increasingly

stressful housing market

predictions, bleak

job outlooks, and the

ever-growing student

loan debt mountain?

Perhaps. Others say that

millennials are in it for

the Instagrammable

moment. But whatever

it is, something certainly

is driving America’s

millennials to bring

home plants.

10


It is a small plant

delicately branched and

tapering conically

to a point, each branch

and the peak a wire for

green pods, blind lanterns

starting upward from

the stalk each way to

a pair of prickly edged blue

flowerets: it is her regard,

a little plant without leaves,

a finished thing guarding

its secret. Blue eyes—

but there are twenty looks

in one, alike as forty flowers

on twenty stems—Blue eyes

a little closed upon a wish

achieved and half lost again,

stemming back, garlanded

with green sacks of

satisfaction gone to seed,

back to a straight stem—if

one looks into you, trumpets—!

No. It is the pale hollow of

desire itself counting

over and over the moneys of

a stale achievement. Three

small lavender imploring tips

below and above them two

slender colored arrows

of disdain with anthers

between them and

at the edge of the goblet

a white lip, to drink from—!

And summer lifts her look

forty times over, forty times

over—namelessly.

I have a basil plant

with some lovely, emerald leaves

crowning 3 strong, thick columns

in an off-white, ceramic pot.

Decorated with delicate foliage,

hand-painted

in rust and green,

how it glows in the sunshine

on the tiled kitchen window sill.

It is a Small Plant

William Carlos Williams

Basil

J.

12


My sister moved work buildings in 2014 to an open office

where she had window access. She purchased a small

fittonia and named him Leafy. She kept Leafy happy

and green as she moved up through the company and

eventually they moved into a private office. Leafy sat on

her desk for several years until a fateful summer when my

sister took a week’s vacation and forgot to take Leafy home

or ask someone to water him. When she returned from her

vacation, relaxed and energized, she found Leafy shriveled

and dead on her desk. Forced to let him go as there was

no reviving him, Leafy hit the garbage can. So long, Leafy.

Leafy

14


16

Lots of people assume that houseplants are

either finicky and very difficult to maintain,

or require a lot of daily effort and work.

There are some plants that can need a little

more maintenance than others, but there are

several varieties of plants that require almost

no care except the occasional watering and

checkup, and are great for beginners because

they are so forgiving. All it takes to start

your own indoor garden is a brief inspection

of your plants’ health every couple of days, a

little water, a little patience, and some hope.

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