Monday, August 4, 2014

Warsaw pot plants

Possibly because of the nature of housing in Warsaw, medium density, the city's inhabitants have a particular kind of relationship with nature. This is a city where public parks and pot plants reign supreme. Warsaw's parks are beautiful – lush, varied and highly cultivated. And even the smallish squares the central point around each housing complex in my inner suburb of Mokotow, where we were based, are well maintained. You can't step a metre without bumping into a rubbish bin though good luck finding a seat (a deliberate strategy to limit loafers apparently). I was touched most though by the pot plants. I have vivid memories of my grandparents flat circa 1994 where an entire wall of the living room was covered by plants like a jungle scene. Each floor of the stairwell of their six floor apartment building had a number of pot plants lined up beside a window, in a curated display that suggested the pastime was taken seriously. The plants are still there, still tended to and watered. It's nothing like a Mediterranean film, no gingham in sight, or artful watering cans. Just a few 1.5 litre plastic bottles, a motley crew of recycled pots and saucers, some succulents and a few hardy blooms. I was moved by the  communal effort on which their survival depended and how little was made of it other than a basic and unspoken agreement that the presence of plants mattered.

Photos: Josef Lumley

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