Author Bio: Hannah is a recent college graduate wandering her way through life. Devoted plant mom, yogi, and hug-sharer, Hannah loves to share her world experience through Instagram and her blog, Walking on a Peace Sign. When she isn’t traveling, camping, or taking care of her 38 (and growing) houseplants, she is probably at the PETA office where she works as a College Campaign Coordinator. She loves hippos, potatoes, and botanical tattoos. Keep up with her day-to-day adventure on Instagram @lovepeasandsoy!
I love plants. A lot.
I know that probably sounds rather stereotypical for a vegan to say, but it is true. They keep me alive, yes, but they do so much more than that. They were my focus of study in college. They give me (and you) air to breathe and food to eat.
They have taught me patience, resilience, and the power of symbiotic relationships. They are a life force, the reason we can all exist as we do today.
I have chosen to fill my apartment with plants for all of these reasons. Primarily for the lessons they teach me—my misadventures in apartment gardening have brought me plenty of laughs and even more life insight than I ever thought a little green friend could. Plus, the more I can grow in my yoga room, the less money I have to spend on groceries. Win-win? I like to think so.
Lesson 1: Patience
If you have ever spent time around any other living being, you know patience is almost always required. I remember the first day I bought a plant for my apartment. I was in my third year of college, could not have a companion animal, and wanted to care for something so badly. So, I drove myself to the store, picked out an adorable succulent and rushed home to plant it in this beautiful glass box I found at an estate sale. Before I knew it, I was graduating and my little succulent was surprisingly GIGANTIC, no longer fitting in its glass home anymore.
When I moved into my current apartment, my succulent was moved into a larger pot and I began creating my own urban jungle. My first plant had grown so quickly and healthily with no help from me, so I assumed all of the new ones would be no different. Well, I was wrong. I noticed some of them were drying out too quickly while others were getting fried by the sun or looked like they were drowning. I quickly realized that each plant required special attention, individualized care. Of course, this is not as easy as one succulent, but it was incredibly rewarding to see each plant make a full recovery and go on to thrive.
But this taught me a very important lesson on the power of patience—an art many of us have lost touch with in this age of holding the world at our fingertips. It would have been easier for me to just let the plants die and go on my merry way.
If I had done that though, I would have lost out on the opportunity to surround myself with the beauty in my life now.
Lesson 2: Resilience
This is not something I learned through my experiences working with plants, but rather through my observation of them daily. I acquired many of my plants shortly before winter, so many of them struggled with the temperatures in my (very old) apartment. This was obviously difficult for them to adjust to at first and there were a lot of brown leaves. That combined with my busy traveling schedule and horrible lighting conditions left a lot of them looking something like this:
But most of them were resilient little warriors, made it through, and showed me how wondrous resiliency can be. Today, they are all bigger, healthier, and more vibrant than ever. My little plants taught me a life lesson in the benefits of sticking through hard times—you come out a much bolder, beautiful being.
Lesson 3: The Power of Symbiotic Relationships
I have my degree in Evolutionary/Environmental Biology & Ecology, so I know a thing or two about symbiotic relationships…at least from an academic standpoint. I know there are many different types. Some are necessary for survival of both species (obligate); others are through choice (facultative).
I feel like my relationship with my plants has become a symbiotic relationship. Of course, they get proper care, water, and the attention needed to thrive. But I feel like the lucky one in this relationship because I receive so much more from them than they do from me. I’ve been given gorgeous, sweet smelling flowers; healthy, decadent herbs to cook with; clean, fresh air to breathe; and something to care for, to pour my love into. I’ve been taught important life lessons. I’ve learned a lot about myself. Most importantly, I’ve found a bountiful way to cultivate life and practice daily self-care.
I am by no means an expert in plant care, but I am proud of what I have cultivated in my home, all of the lessons I have learned. The mistakes and missteps have only helped me (and my plants) grow into greater existence. I am looking forward to taking in more plants and, of course, for many more misadventures in apartment gardening.
Here are some of Hannah’s photos from her very own apartment garden! #gardengoals