2. Grow the Wildest Plant Pot.
The second task challenges you to question your interpretation of the word “wild” and your relationship with wildness, by growing the wildest flowerpot in preparation for a plant pot pageant.
Can something be wild if it is planted by a human? Are wild and beautiful mutually exclusive? What would it look like if we let wild nature take over the care of one of our flower pots? Are we not wild animals ourselves?
This past year, I have been mentored by two bees who live in a village in Spain. Pol Parrhesia and Jorge Gallardo Altamirano are two of the artists behind Bee Time, “a research and artistic creation group that understands its work as a tool for change that acts by emitting resonances in the natural and social environment”.
There are many parallels between our work, as if our simultaneous awareness of the global ecological crisis has brought about evolutionary convergence in our creative practices.
The Wild Plant Pot competition, or Salirse del Tiesto, was Pol and Jorge’s idea. They had planned to host the pageant as part of a collaboration with their local community, until Covid restrictions curtailed their activities.
The phrase “salirse del tiesto” translates directly as “out of the pot”. It is Spain’s equivalent of “outside the box”, “against the grain”, or even “buck wild”. It signified that Bee Time expected the flower pots entered into their competition to be a bit mad and “out there”.
We discouraged participants from taking plants from the wild and imprisoning them in a pot. As Kate MacLochlainn explained in her talk on the Mount Merrion orchid meadow, many wild species won’t survive away from the community of supportive fungi and bacteria in which they evolved anyway.
But there are certain situations in which pulling up weeds serves a purpose in meeting our own ecological needs. Yes, we humans are part of the ecosystem too.
So, my housemates and I transplanted the “weeds” from the vegetable patch into a large pot. There, they could live out their days in peace, safe from the hoe. The most challenging part was the physical exertion involved in digging after such a long time in lockdown! We are in desperate need of rewilding ourselves.
Isabella Tree’s book, Wilding, describes what can happen when we let nature do her own thing on an even greater scale.