“They are my sense of security” — Sarp Kizir on the power of plants
People & Places

“They are my sense of security” — Sarp Kizir on the power of plants

As I write this, I am reminded of a quote from The Secret Life of Plants by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird: “Short of Aphrodite, there is nothing lovelier on this planet than a flower, nor more essential than a plant.”

My life with plants is less of a secret because I share my journey with friends online, but I am thankful for this quote because it is not easy to put into words the beauty and role that plants play in my life. My houseplants provide me and my online audience with a symbol of health and vibrancy while we are living through a collective ailment in the form of a global pandemic. I’ve been told that my online plant updates are something people look forward to; I get messages of gratitude about how they provide a sense of calm that helps people get through their days.

Portrait of Sarp Kizir by Jen Bernard

Through social media, I share the light from my large south- facing window not only with my plants but with my friends who are having a tough time. My plants are definitely thankful that I haven’t closed my living room curtains in years. They are my sense of security, which is paramount to my mental health. Since I live alone, they provide company.

Do I talk to my plants? That I do not, but we do communicate. We share a love language. We are a family. Waking up to see my plants shining in the sunlight is like waking up to a ceremony, a visual pageantry. When it is dark and stormy outside, they provide colour that permeates the grey. My plants guide me: when my peace lilies need water, they slump, and I make sure that they stand up proud by giving them the water that runs from Ottawa’s taps (which happens to have very proper pH and alkaline levels).

My hibiscus tree has a braided trunk, my false shamrocks tilt toward the sun, as does my amaryllis. My monsteras started just a little bigger than a basil leaf and are now almost four feet tall. I won’t soon forget the excitement as their leaves started splitting into their more mature signature format. I have never before witnessed a green plant look so dazzling. The monsteras quickly became the centrepiece of my indoor jungle. When my hibiscus tree blooms in the warmer months, I harvest the dry flowers and make a herbal tea from them, which consists of cinnamon, mint, Labrador berries, ginger, and dried hibiscus flower. I call this my healing Hibiscus Tea, and I bottle batches for my friends. My plants are good for my body as much as they are for my mind and soul.

“… there is nothing lovelier on this planet than a flower,
nor more essential than
a plant”

But Sarp, what would happen to your plants if something were to happen to you? I’ve got that part covered. My most trusted friends are ready to retrieve and rehome my plants if necessary. My mother passed away six years ago, so if there is one way to honour her memory and legacy, it would be to find the best possible adoption scenario for her false shamrocks and begonias.

The more they grow, the more I grow as a person. They are a constant reminder of just how fragile the balance is between nature and human beings. They absorb more than just sunlight and water — they absorb our energies, and right now, the energy we are giving them on this planet with our industries and urban expansions is that they are no longer needed.

When I see trees that produce palm oil being replanted where there has been massive deforestation causing the displacement of Indigenous people, I realize the effect in a different way. The proclamation of my responsibility to Mother Earth is right there in front of me when I see my houseplants.