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Although my family name is Gardiner, I can’t say I’ve ever lived up to my name. In the past I’d look at plants and feel them wilt on the spot. Then COVID came.
During the first lockdown, I was cooped up in a city flat with four children, which was stifling to say the least. I yearned for the country, for fresh air, for greenery. Little did I know back then that it would be a solid year before I’d leave my neighborhood. So I started appreciating the few plants I had, and I prayed that they’d thrive.
Then the shops re-opened and I made a dash for the essentials. Not clothes or shoes, but plants, pots, earth. Lots and lots of plants. My balconies and home were soon dotted with plants sporting Latin names I’ll never remember. There was no real research or planning; just finding plants that made me smile. There were quite a few!
One year later, we welcome another new plant into the home. (My kids say I have a problem, but they secretly love the calming effect of these green beauties.) If this is the worst of my problems, however, I’m delighted. Watching the plants grow, change color, define my space, and become part of the family, has been one of the biggest blessings of the pandemic.
I’ve learnt to appreciate the tiniest of details. I delight in my Chinese Money plant, or Pilea peperomioides to those who appreciate its Latin moniker, as it sprouts baby leaves. There’s so much satisfaction in watching a plant respond to being cared for, and it’s also made me more patient.
One of my favorites is a prayer plant whose leaves close at night like folded hands, hence the name. My daughter calls it Deuteronomy, or “Deut” for short. I have no idea why, but it’s stuck. And when Deut recently looked a little glum, we were all willing it on. Thankfully it perked up and my kids are convinced it’s all down to them.
It’s become a little routine to talk to the plants as I water them, or even as I walk past them. I actually found myself apologizing to Phil the Ficus the other day as I trapped my charger in his leaves.
Although it might seem ridiculous, these beautiful plants have done so much more than bring a little much-needed nature to our home; they’ve given us a new appreciation for the sheer beauty of God’s creation. Every single plant responds to its environment. Each offers us something if we take the time to look.
My plants have also brought me to a community of other plant lovers. There are various groups on Facebook that discuss their beloved plants, such as Plants at Home, and you find yourself admiring other people’s efforts, or trying to help them find a solution for plants that are misbehaving. Everybody who posts photos seems to have a broad smile!
I’m not alone in this new-found passion. Millions of plants are finding happy homes thanks to COVID. It’s not just because they make a home look welcoming and pretty, but as scientists have found, plants have stress-reducing qualities.
So if you’re looking for a hobby, a new collection, or to just feel closer to God’s creation, invite some friendly plants into your home. They’re not just beautiful, they’re perfect for encouraging kids to care for something and to connect them to the natural world.
And now if you’ll excuse me, my beloved Zane the Zamioculcas zamiifolia (the popular ZZ plant!) is in need of some dusting love.