Her World Singapore|March 2019
Could your relationship with your plants clue you into what’s happening with your love life? Could plants offer life-enhancing wisdom and be personal life coaches? Donna Tang digs deep to unearth some truths.
I confess I only got into urban gardening because of Instagram. The lush interior shots with tags like #jungalowstyle and #urbanjungle had me green with envy. But I’ve always hated gardening, so my first plant was just meant to be a throwaway hip photo prop.
Now, a year later, I have 30 plants. Worldwide, the trend shows the same upswing. As self-care, slow living and other wellness movements become lifestyles instead of passing fads, urban gardening, with its scientifically-proven mental health benefits, has grown too, by an estimated 30 per cent yearly since 2015. The vertical farming niche alone is projected to surpass US$13 billion (S$17.6 billion) by 2024, according to a new research report by Global Market Insights – and that doesn’t take into account the millions of casual windowsill urban gardeners like me.
While plants bring a host of benefits (see sidebar), the real reason I’ve stuck with mine is that they’ve been a personal life coach. It’s said that plants can react to music, that they can listen. Instead, I’ve found myself listening to my plants and learning from them, and here are some truths I’ve harvested.
1. IF IT AIN’T GROWING, IT’S DYING
In nature, things are either growing or dying. Nothing remains the same from day to day – your plant is either getting taller and putting out shoots, or it’s dying. Any time one of my plants appears stagnant and I don’t do anything about it, a day or two later I’ll see it drooping, wilting or yellowing.
Stasis is death; it’s not natural. This has been a profound, life-changing lesson for me. I’d always thought stability was an ideal state, something to strive for – without realising that the status quo leads too quickly to status uh-oh.
Routine and stability tip over so quickly into stagnancy, it can be hard to tell the difference, so I now choose to err on the side of growth. I don’t give my love life a chance to feel like it’s standing still. I do as I do with my plants, and constantly pay attention to how I can prod growth: For instance, by fertilising with a new joint interest (like learning a new language together) or pruning causes of daily friction (like my tendency to be late, or to leave dishes in the sink). I also apply this to other areas of my life, like work and family, ensuring nothing stagnates as far as possible. If my plants are growing every day, I should be too.
2. TOO MUCH IS AS BAD AS TOO LITTLE
Every beginner gardener makes this mistake. After the initial diligence, you forget to water your plants, and they start to wilt. You panic and compensate by flooding them with more water. The wilting continues, and you’re utterly confused. Turns out, too much water is as bad as too little.
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