Illustration of Derek Powazek by Adam Ellis

The Caladium Project

The Caladium Project

I love growing orchids, and I’ve had some luck with it. But orchids are the toy poodles of indoor growing – fussy and high maintenance. Sometimes you just want a big slobbery mutt.

So a few months ago I asked my dad what plant he thought had the most beautiful leaves. Dad’s an amazing green-thumb and knows more about indoor plants than anyone. He thought about it for a while and suggested Caladiums, pointing me to the aptly-named

I ordered the smallest mixed box they had, bought some soil and pots at a local gardening store, and planted ten small pots. Two months later, our living room is an explosion of red, green, and white. Endless variations of intricate heart-shaped leaves springing from bulbs following chemical programs. It’s real life generative art.

My dad jokes that after years of working as a psychologist in hospitals, he likes growing plants because “they don’t complain and die quietly.” I don’t watch kids die of cancer for a living – I just play with computers. But I am frequently confused by how complicated people are, how alienating life behind the screen can feel, and how some justify cruelty as business.

No wonder I grow plants, too.

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Hi, I’m Derek. I used to make websites. Now I grow flowers and know things. I’m mostly harmless. More.