Branching out

Goodness, how the days have been passing! The fronds and I have been busy living and moving and expanding, and a bit slack at the writing part of this project I confess. Although that’s not entirely true- I was working on an essay about this project for my Masters, and so focussing more on that writing than the blog side of things. I may share parts of that essay here in the coming days.

Having handed in that essay, the fronds and I find ourselves at a bit of a crossroads. I actually initially planned to only carry the fronds with me for one week- a neat but arbitrary length of time. But life was far too interesting, I was curious to see what else we would experience together. It has now been about four weeks since we first started travelling together. I have become rather, well, fond, of having them around. They have brought me down to earth in moments of anxiety, awkwardness or uncertainty. I have felt great joy in observing their growth and development. We have settled into a kind of normality together.

And yet, things are changing. I’ve handed in my essay now, and although that seems of distant relevance to the bodily reality of leaf and skin, it does show me that a lot of learning and living and thinking has already grown out of this little project. I was thinking I would keep carrying them for a while longer, but my life too is changing, with a new job meaning I’ll be on the move quite a bit. It would be hard to keep the fronds safe and healthy in these travels. What’s more, I think honesty is not far off being ready for transplanting into larger pots. I’m still a bit nervous about whether they’re too close together, but we will see.

I’ve found throughout my living with the fronds that my body often makes decisions before my conscious mind creates reasoning for those decisions. Fingers pulling weeds, smoothing soil, leaving the fronds at home on various occasions. I am in fact away from the fronds right now, as I write about the decision to leave them. And I miss them. My Dad seemed disappointed that I didn’t take them to an opening at the art gallery last night, and it’s true, I think that would have been a wonderful place to be with them.

From this sense of separation there are things to be learned too. About how much I can care for things when I decide to, about how easily the strange can become normal. One thing I keep thinking of is how strange it seemed when the first people started carrying mobile phones around, yet now they are ubiquitous. Could the same ever happen for little companion plants, shadowing us like the daemons in Phillip Pullman’ Northern Lights series? Strange things are happening all the time, stranger things have happened.

I may still take the fronds on an outing here or there- I did so want to go exploring a local nature reserve together, for example- but in general I think we are moving out of our intense period of cohabitation towards more independent lives. I’ll report back here occasionally, especially when major events like transplanting occur- or, fingers crossed, flowering and fruiting!

Footage from my reading at the local poets session is now up online, if you’re interested I seeing the fronds and I perform together, you can check it out here.

Meanwhile, some moments from the past week.


Check out how big, and serrated, and hairy honesty’s leaves are getting. Also the night-time closing of leaves was not just a habit of purslane’s seed leaves, it seems to continue throughout its life. I will never look at purslane the same again (but we knew that already).


We soaked up the light of the full moon. Not so good for photosynthesising, but I like to think the fronds could sense it somehow (I wonder if there’s any research on this?)

Some libraries were nicer than others to write in, although we didn’t ever manage to find good sunlight. There was all sorts of bird drama going on in that tree.


And we went to see the Wonderwoman movie! A bit disappointed in the representation of plants, although the island at the beginning looked pretty lush. Is this the next frontier for more accurate portrayal in cinema?




3 thoughts on “Branching out

  1. Beautiful, Alice! Yes, the next frontier in cinema! It’s so striking that SF in particular loves plant-free environments. (What are people eating there?). Love the pic of the fronds in the moonlight.


  2. Love the notion of ‘the bodily reality of leaf and skin’- wondering if you might dive more deeply into this? Also like your identification of body moving before mind engagement- in my own arts practice, ecopoieisis, I deliberately stave off mind so it does not colonise a project. In this way, I find my imagination is more free to explore and experiment. Meaning making can enter much later after a dialogue between art forms. Re full moon research and plants? Steiner based his biodynamic farming on moon cycles and other interesting phenomena!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Biodynamics, of course! I’ve dabbled with this a little when helping on various farms/gardens, have meant to read more into it for a while. And if plants are a large percentage water, then perhaps it’s like there’s tiny tides swelling within their cells, pulled at by the moon.


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