Mr. Bunbury

The story of a houseplant who decided whether to live or to die

Hi good morning,

I wanna tell you about a fern of mine.

I call him Mr. Bunbury, after the fictional character from The Importance of Being Earnest (when I was 17, I got to play Lady Bracknell, one of my favorite experiences ever). In the play, Lady Bracknell’s nephew Algernon has invented Mr. Bunbury, whose very poor health provides a convenient excuse for getting out of obligations. Inconvenienced yet again by Mr. Bunbury, Lady Bracknell retorts: “Well, I must say, Algernon, that I think it is high time that Mr. Bunbury made up his mind whether he was going to live or to die. This shilly-shallying with the question is absurd.”

Anyway a couple of months ago, after a long decline, this fern finally died.

It had long been plagued by some kind of pest, which I’d tried to address many times by carefully removing each one with a q-tip soaked with diluted alcohol. The pest appeared to be vanquished but the fern was now dying.

Leaf after leaf withered. Then it was down to one, shitty leaf which, of course, was bit by a cat:

So I then spoke with a friend who knows everything there is to know about houseplants, or so I think anyway. After a brief consultation, I gave Mr. Bunbury a big upside-down jar, hoping this may help him maintain humidity and temperature.

After many leafless days, to my surprise, some hope:

And then:

I upgraded to a larger jar and to a spot I think might work better for Mr. Bunbury; less direct light but more indirect.

As of today, he’s working on leaf two:

Here’s to not giving up.

It can be tempting, sometimes.

But even a totally leafless fern can rebound, apparently.

Also, to those of you who are also roommates with cats, may I recommend planting them some cat grass:

Two podcasts I’ve been loving lately:

Rebel Eaters Club: I started linking episodes here then found I was linking them all, so just start anywhere, listen to them; that’d be my advice. This lovely conversation about food and friendship inspired me to go out later and harvest some dandelions because, after recent rains, my garden is mostly dandelions …

The Laverne Cox Show: I find that a lot of celebrity podcasts are … very bad, even ones made by people I like (*coughs the sound Tig Notaro*). This celebrity podcast however is really good. You can feel how much thought and care is going into every episode.

Sending you love,