There’s a pattern in my life. My mum tries to get me interested in something, and I resist, then I decide by myself that actually it’s great. So far, this has happened with: reading, cooking, driving, and, most recently, plants. Also being tidier, but that’s a slower process because I have terrible habits. You’d think, now that I know this about myself, I wouldn’t still resist. You’d be wrong. I am still regularly heard declaring that, obviously, I don’t care about plants and gardens. At all. It’s all lies.
I had a plant for about a year and a half at university. It was a dragon plant called Sebastien, and I bought him from a little plant shop in Courbevoie, the suburb of Paris that I lived in while I was in first year, because the box of a studio I lived in was extremely lacking in cosiness. Sadly, he didn’t survive to the end of my second year because my awful flatmate, who spent several months making me extremely miserable, insisted on watering him, and he rotted in his pot. Tragique.
After that, I didn’t try again. It wasn’t until Lauren bought me a little pot plant from a petrol station while we were on our way to Kidderminster that I started getting interested again. Another couple of tiny succulents from supermarkets joined it, some of them died, I didn’t really get the hang of actually looking after them for a while. But then something clicked. I went to get bigger pots, and spotted a blister pack of sad-looking succulents on the sale shelf in Homebase, and decided to try saving them. It went well for two of the three – admittedly one of them turned out to be a moneyplant, which are pretty hardy, but the other is… some kind of unspecified thing with bluish greyish green tube sort of leaves. It’s cute. I acquired another blister pack early this spring, and those are doing beautifully, too. My haworthia, which I got in Sainsburys and really did think I had killed, has been flowering for months. I’ve just got a bromeliad for my desk, and a string of hearts for the side of my wardrobe. I’ve been growing herbs in the garden, and mum is pretending dismay about not getting to make all the garden decisions any more.
So it was only a matter of time before I started getting plant books, really. I picked up two in a National Trust shop in Cornwall, and read one of them in a day. Living with plants is by Sophie Lee, who is the person behind geo-fleur, and it’s a really useful how-to sort of book about houseplants. It’s informative and useful and it’s already making me put a bit more thought into how I look after my plants. It has, however, made me want a cheese plant even more than I did already, which is terrible because I simply do not have the room!
Nobody believes me any more when I say I don’t care about plants, but I feel like I have to keep up the pretence a little longer. And it’s helping me keep a lid on something that would otherwise be taking up every surface I have, which maybe isn’t the best plan. Not yet, at least.