A Mysterious Case of Green Fingers
Apparently I can take care of more than just myself.
Is there anything more quintessentially British than a bank holiday weekend? Probably yes, actually - but bank holidays definitely still make the list.
Those little oasis’s of time off, dotted (rather too infrequently to be honest), throughout the calendar, but with special emphasis during the spring months. And how do I spend most of mine? Exploring garden centres and spending the equivalent of the GDP of a small developing nation on plants I couldn’t tell you the names of* or what conditions they thrive in - but that I do think look pretty.
*ok... so this is a lie...ish.... The OH (who formally spent time as a landscape gardener) has been educating me. I know what a verbena is now and I have quite strong views on whether they should be dwarf or not. I also like to throw the words pittosporum and spiraea in to plant conversation, as I am a child and like to make them sound rude.
At what point do you start truly appreciating plants? I know that there will be many people who have always enjoyed planting, growing and nurturing them, but for me, plants were always something my parents were interested in - seemingly a typical adult activity to partake in. Many a weekend we would return from the garden centre, laden with pansies, geraniums and begonias, all waiting to be placed in pots or dug into the heavy clay Essex soil of my parents house, surrounded by fuchsias, hostas and clematis. A riot of colour in beds that got larger each year as my dad trimmed back the lawn to “keep it tidy” (it was already a postage stamp sized lawn; am surprised it didn’t end up as a solitary blade of grass). Not too many indoor plants though...if any....thinking about it... Apart from a cheese plant that I vaguely recall from when I was really little, I don’t think we ever had any houseplants.
So I know that they’ve never really played a huge part in my enjoyment of my home - sure they look pretty but after I left home, any plants wherever I lived always needed someone else to really care about them. It’s no surprise that for the longest time the only plants that ever survived in my house were of the cactus variety (or a couple from IKEA, who I assume breed their plants to be like their furniture - easy to maintain and apparently indestructible).
Recently though I’ve gone plant crazy. So apparently I’m right on track with the old “doing things that my parents enjoy” age of my life. It started off with indoor plants (funny that, after a year of lockdown and some truly awful 2021 weather). My two or three ride-or-die plants that have been with me for an age have multiplied to almost 30. No room is immune, even the bathroom has been “foliaged”. I take great delight In wandering round each week to check in, prune and water (every other week to feed - my god, who have I become??). So much so, I insisted on a stylish new watering can to satisfy my green habit (the plastic measuring jug usually reserved for gravy and Yorkshire pudding mix will no longer do I tell you).
There’s something so very calming about being surrounded by greenery, and perhaps with being in the house so much the last 18 months, it’s inevitable that this has happened. I vaguely know some of their proper names (though resort to “spiky bastard” for those sharp looking succulents), and am definitely more interested in leaves than flowers - though when blooms do pop out, it’s a little pretty Brucey bonus. I like to mix it up as well, although spider type plants and peace lilies appear to be multiplying like rabbits at the moment. Which is surprising given how much my cats like to munch on the peace lilies - which is another problem. How long have I spent in garden centres googling what types of plants kill cats in order to avoid them. Sansevieria and zamioculcas have both been discarded because of my hungry kitties (and in the case of the sansevieria, was made to wear a plastic bag hat until we could get rid of it). And now I’ve just googled poisonous plants and have read that peace lilies are also out to get the cats... argh!
What I am absolutely sure of is that the indoor planting is very much my turf - probably because I can choose some glorious looking pots to place them in and then spend an age moving them one inch to the left, before taking them to the other side of the fireplace to find their best angle.
Outdoors on the other hand, is totally the OH’s domain. Sure, I put my two cents in - and argue the point about size and colour, but he really does know what he’s doing (the rule of three is VERY important). It also means that he deals with all the backbreaking digging work, whilst I enjoy the fruits of his labour, surrounded by rustling bamboo, sharing shade with colourful Japanese acers and enjoying the wafts of lavender every time someone (or thing) brushes last them.
The appreciation of all thing flora has extended to my photos - I can’t tell you how many bluebell pictures I’ve accumulated over the last two years. The photo at the top of this post was taken in a particularly pretty cafe toilet in a village near Durham. And I’ve become immune to the laughing comments of pubescent teens as I crawl on the ground to get the best angle on the crocuses that sprout across my local park in springtime. Because who cares. Apparently I’m a plant lover - and there are definitely worst things to love.