Living in House Plant Time
Art by Lily Jeon
In an article called "Tree Time'' that I read recently, the writer, Sumana Roy, revels at the natural pace at which trees grow—unmoving and unbothered by frivolities of societal pressures that we as humans face; rooted, secure, and thriving in their place. While working from home, switching around the house plants and artwork became a routine hobby for me. I became attentive to how much moving a plant from one spot in my small home to another affected its growth. Unlike a tree in the ground, these houseplants, since being plucked out from some tropical soil, have been constantly displaced and forced to adjust to varying pressures inflicted by the sporadic circumstances of me, their owner. They’ve been stunted in growth, growing leggy and uneven from fluctuating growth tactics corresponding to their changing environment.
Having moved thirteen times within thirty years on Earth, I’ve learned to keep my belongings minimal and well contained, to not get too comfortable too fast. The plants I have with me today have survived through turbulence, being stuffed into moving vehicles, withstanding periods of low sunlight in less-than-optimal transitional homes, and periods of drought while in storage—never in one place long enough to comfortably set down their roots. After experiencing several seasonal cycles in this current abode, the plants and I are finally starting to feel at home and settle into a comfortable equilibrium. Roots are climbing out of their pots, new growths are emerging, and plants that I didn’t know could flower are flaunting their blooms in the summer! My partner and I also began to really feel rooted and secure in our home, spending lots of energy personalizing it, fixing it, or learning to love all its quirks. But as we did so, we realized it was time again to move on to our next home. It’s a bittersweet feeling to be moving out of this home we grew into so comfortably. And of course, one of the most challenging things to move again will be our many, now overgrown houseplants! This is a miniature scale model of a corner of our beloved home.
Lily Dayoung Jeon is an educator and creative technologist by day, and a designer and builder by night. Her work centers on community-building and empowerment through hands-on experiential learning and co-creative praxis. From designing joyful spaces to developing dynamic workshops, she uses an interdisciplinary lens to ignite engagement, empathy, and dialogue for transformation. She was born in South Korea and is based in Tkaronto. | Web: lilyjeon.ca, IG @lilylilylala